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Free Software Sentry – watching and reporting maneuvers of those threatened by software freedom
Updated: 38 min 7 sec ago

Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe Blind to Its Participation in a Scam Around Patents on Nature

Monday 11th of June 2018 08:36:43 AM

Recent: Allergan/Mohawk ‘Sovereign Immunity’ Patent Scam (Dodging PTAB) Backfires Spectacularly


Without even shedding a tear over what they’ve done (a betrayal to Native American values)

Summary: For over $20,000,000 (so far) the Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe has agreed to pretend that it has something to do with controversial patents of Allergan, in effect grossly abusing the concept of tribal immunity while at the same time enabling privatisation of nature

THIS SITE typically focuses on software patents and Alice. But a few other high-level decisions, notably Mayo, impact patent scope as well. There are many bogus USPTO patents which are well overdue for a review by the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) and maybe the Federal Circuit as well. That includes patents of Allergan, which is visibly afraid of PTAB, knowing perhaps that its patents are questionable and would likely be voided upon closer scrutiny.

Allergan hired some dodgy law firm that bullies bloggers like myself; they are maximalists of patent law who are resorting to outright "scams" now (many people call it a “scam”).

“Allergan hired some dodgy law firm that bullies bloggers like myself…”Patently-O‘s Dennis Crouch has in fact just given the platform to these patent “scammers” who misuse tribal immunity to cushion/shield monopoly of Allergan (based on bogus patents). Michael Gulliford, an advisor to the Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe and the Founder of Soryn IP Group, uses terms like “controversial” and “death squad” to refer to PTAB. He compares judges and courts to assassins basically. What a lunatic.

He admits upfront that the tribe takes “$13.75 million upfront, with continuing royalty payments of $3.75 million per quarter” to participate in a “scam” of Allergan. This is pure greed and mischief. The tribe’s reputation is dead. They know it. In his own words:

Native Americans and patents don’t make headlines. That changed when the Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe, located in upstate New York, conceived a lucrative transaction that saw Allergan transfer patents covering the dry eye drug Restasis® to the Tribe. In return, the Tribe agreed to use its sovereign status to protect the patents from a controversial administrative proceeding coined the patent “death squad”, and to license the patents to Allergan. Allergan paid the Tribe $13.75 million upfront, with continuing royalty payments of $3.75 million per quarter.

The tribe now has very serious trouble in its hands; it has become widely associated with apatent “scammers” (especially in news headlines). These tribes are usually renowned with preservation and opposition to private ownership; this tribe is now known for the very opposite. It’s a greedy opportunist that helps a bunch of billionaires have a monopoly on nature.

“The tribe now has very serious trouble in its hands; it has become widely associated with a patent “scammers” (especially in news headlines).”Whose idea was it? The lawyers’, no doubt, both Allergan’s and the tribe’s. “AstraZeneca sign[ed] [an] $1.5B antibody deal with Allergan” a couple of years ago, so it’s clear that they increasingly just rely on notorious patents on life.

As we noted here before, Patent Docs habitually promotes patents on life (stuff like CRISPR and beyond) and a few hours ago it republished a page (“Antibodies in the European Patent Office“) from a patent law firm, noting upfront that “[t]he following article was reprinted with permission from J A Kemp.” (who habitually write about the EPO, e.g. [1, 2, 3]

It starts with a discussion about Supplementary Protection Certificates (SPCs), which Team UPC keeps promoting, and then there’s this:

This Advanced Guide is drawn primarily from our experience prosecuting large numbers of antibody cases before the EPO and our discussions with EPO examiners. This may raise the question: Why is there so little supporting case law?

The main reason is that antibody case law at the EPO has been relatively slow to develop in recent years. In our opinion this is because the most common pending antibody applications during this period have focused narrowly on a lead molecule or molecules of the applicant.

It really comes to show just how much uncertainty surrounds these patents. They’re almost shrouded in mystery. Well, the examiners at the EPO are resisting these, but patent maximalists such as Team UPC push back hard, sometimes together with IAM. Lately we’ve been receiving pointers to sites which oppose patents on life; EPO insiders, perhaps witnessing public protests to that effect, understand the injustice/irrationality of such a concept. What will the Boards of Appeal, whose member has allegedly been bullied into severe depression by Battistelli's abuses, do on that matter?

Post-AIA, Post-Alice/§ 101 USPTO Still Granting Software Patents in Defiance of the (Case)Law

Monday 11th of June 2018 05:48:40 AM

Nationality or sovereignty defined by one’s patent scope; the danger is, by granting patents in error they associate their patents with weak enforceability

Summary: The patent microcosm, which looks for new ways to patent algorithms (in spite of Alice), actually dooms the US patent system by filling it up with invalid patents — software patents that are just waiting to be thrown out by courts which can better assess subject matter (no financial incentive to grant aplenty)

THE LITIGATION climate the US became renowned/notorious for is no more; at least as far as patent litigation is concerned. As we said yesterday, a lot of the litigation drifts eastwards to Europe and China, owing to patent maximalism at the EPO and SIPO. It’s estimated that this year — by year’s end — the USPTO will have marked a decline in patent filings.

“We are sadly seeing a failure to reject software patent applications, which eventually perish somewhere like the Federal Circuit or Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) — at a vastly higher cost!”The improving patent quality is good news; it’s bad news to lawyers, but they’re just a tiny minority or a non-producing, unproductive niche. Based on yesterday’s advertisement of an upcoming “webinar” of theirs, they’re trying to come up with new patenting tricks (getting patents on what otherwise would get rejected). The Practising Law Institute (PLI), a patent maximalists’ group, will cover “35 U.S.C. Sections 101/102/103″ and “35 U.S.C. 101: The Complete Guideline Breakdown of Alice, Myriad and Mayo” (basically what places restrictions on abstract patents). There’s also this upcoming “webinar” about rejections and the Intellectual Property Owners Association (IPO), which acts as a front for IBM in promoting software patents, has this “webinar” about patents on nature/life. IBM’s Manny Schecter has meanwhile said: “Inventions can be implemented in hardware or software; both should be patentable” (in the US).

“Watch this new list of newly-granted patents; some of them sound like classic software patents. We already know that such patents, even if granted by the patent office, may perish in courts (or even PTAB).”“Software requires hardware (i.e. non-physical) to run,” I told him, “so focus on the hardware, leave abstract patents out…” (he never replies)

We are sadly seeing a failure to reject software patent applications, which eventually perish somewhere like the Federal Circuit or Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) — at a vastly higher cost!

The other day we became aware of this new lawsuit by USAA [1, 2]. The underlying patent sure sounds like a software patent. To be invalidated soon? Here are the details:

USAA has filed an intellectual property lawsuit against Wells Fargo for unspecified damages, alleging Wells has infringed on USAA’s remote deposit capture patents.

More than a year ago, San Antonio-based USAA, which says it is the inventor of remote deposit capture, started to seek licensing fees from banks using the technology.

“We’ve been abundantly patient with Wells Fargo,” Nathan McKinley, a USAA vice president and its head of corporate development, said in an interview Friday. “Now is the time for us to get the court’s assistance.”

There’s nothing seemingly physical in this so-called ‘invention’. The lawsuit may go nowhere, but maybe its sole purpose/intention is to increase the pressure on Wells Fargo (to abandon this feature or shell out money).

2020NOW, based on this new press release, is pursuing patents only for the sake of litigation. Expect lawsuits to come:

20/20NOW, the pioneer and innovator of Ocular Telehealth, has initiated legal action and other efforts to protect its patents against infringement. 20/20NOW has filed a lawsuit in New York Eastern District Federal Court against Digital Optometrics, claiming infringement of 20/20NOW’s intellectual property. The company also intends on filing for a Post Grant Review of Digital Optometrics Patent with the U.S. Patent Office. The company is confident that the recently issued Digital Optometrics Patent will be found invalid.

We actually found this under “software patents” (we do not look randomly at patents); they aren’t necessarily patenting anything physical here. Here’s another new example, this time from Acuant. “The patent focuses on remote image acquisition and the processing of ID documents,” it says (classic software patent?). “Acuant currently has more than 20 issued patents.”

But so what? Are these all valid? Have these ever been proven in a courtroom? Watch this new list of newly-granted patents; some of them sound like classic software patents. We already know that such patents, even if granted by the patent office, may perish in courts (or even PTAB). Several days ago we saw Jorge Sagastume giving bad advice as though software is still patentable. He wrote:

Depending upon the reason behind your need to hand your software to someone else, you may wish to take measures to protect your intellectual property. Patents can be used to protect the factual aspects of software, while software copyright can be used to protect the “artistic” side of things, including your code. While handing your code to another party is a relatively common behavior in the software world, it never hurts to be prepared, to be aware of the risks and to protect yourself throughout the process.

It’s really not clear what Sagastume meant by “factual aspects of software” (it sounds like mumbo-jumbo), especially as we know that software as a whole is abstract and thus patent-ineligible, e.g. under Alice.

We keep watching these things closely because ideally examiners will just stop issuing software patents; then and only then will PTAB and other tribunals not be demonised for simply applying the law as examiners ought to have done.

Another Victim of Corrupt Benoît Battistelli

Monday 11th of June 2018 05:22:11 AM

Thuggery at the EPO is taking its toll on the mental health of staff

Summary: The judge whom Battistelli attacked, Judge Corcoran, is rumoured to be in a psychiatric hospital after 3.5 years of legal battles and defamation against him

THE plague of suicides at the EPO is undeniable and it can directly be linked to Battistelli’s policies, (mis)behaviour, and sheer abuses.

“Topić is known for causing that (in Croatia), just like Battistelli.”Causing one’s perceived opponents to commit suicide or sink into depression isn’t a novel tactic. Topić is known for causing that (in Croatia), just like Battistelli. We know for a fact that both have been bullying — in several courtrooms (and countries) — Judge Corcoran and in a recent press dialogue/interview Corcoran’s lawyer said she thankful that Mr. Corcoran is still alive after all the abuse he was subjected to by Battistelli and his ‘bulldog’.

“Prowling around the corridors of the Isar building, Märpel learnt unfortunate news,” Märpel wrote last night. “It appears that Mr. Corcoran is in hospital. Märpel heard he was sent to be treated for “psychiatric reasons”. Märpel has no access to the medical file and cats are not familiar of psychiatric hospitals, but there are few reasons to be sent to a psychiatric hospital in Germany. The most common one is when the patient is in danger of committing suicide.”

Benoît Battistelli, if he has any morsel of guilt left in him, might be able to ‘medicate’ himself with some wine, having repeatedly abused people who ‘dared’ (or had the courage) to mention his corruption.

Instead of Smearing the Judges of the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) Check Why Abstract Patents Are Being Granted in the First Place

Monday 11th of June 2018 04:14:44 AM

Hours ago: Do Know Evil? Then Stop Patenting Software, Google


Full paper: Judges as moral reasoners – Oxford Journals – Oxford University Press [PDF]

Summary: PTAB is taking a lot of heat (albeit always from patent maximalists) for simply applying the law, which ought to have been applied by the Office at the time of examination; confidence in US patents depends on the Office’s ability to discern/distinguish patentable subject matter from clearly unpatentable subject matter

The Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) has made a few headlines this past week. Michael Loney, who is based in New York, took note of some precedential decisions:

The PTAB has de-designated Idle Free and Master Image in response to Aqua Products. Fiscal year 2018′s first half set a motion to amend record for two consecutive quarters

The Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) has de-designated as precedential MasterImage 3D v RealD, Case IPR2015-00040 (PTAB July 15, 2015) (Paper 42) and has de-designated as informative Idle Free Sys v Bergstrom, Case IPR2012-00027 (June 11, 2013) (Paper 26).

Much of the coverage about PTAB, however, has been hostile. As expected, it came from longtime PTAB bashers and anti-PTAB sites. Those sites have a proven disdain for patent quality. Rather than ignore those sites we’d like to quickly respond to these.

Referring to a case from the first of June, Watchtroll now cherry-picks one of those rare cases where the Federal Circuit either overrules or vacates/remands after PTAB declares some patent/s to be invalid. Deception by omission in the patent trolls’ lobby? Well, this was done again yesterday. Watchtroll himself (Quinn) said: “The Office taking a proactive approach to reviewing cases on appeal to the Federal Circuit is good news for applicants facing Alice based 101 rejections. Obviously, now is not the time to allow those cases to go abandoned if they remain commercially relevant.”

“Watchtroll’s goal has always been to ‘scandalise’ the PTAB, trying to make it seems like it is making errors (in judgment) all the time when in fact it is getting things right — as measured by affirmations higher up — almost all the time.”Writing about patents in an entirely different domain, Watchtroll found an example of a patent’s validity being upheld, but readers must bear in mind that all the above are the exceptions rather than the norm. Watchtroll’s goal has always been to ‘scandalise’ the PTAB, trying to make it seems like it is making errors (in judgment) all the time when in fact it is getting things right — as measured by affirmations higher up — almost all the time. It’s not just Watchtroll by the way but also sites that have sunk to similarly low levels (a climate of jurist bashing and vicious personal attacks), even Patently-O. Some hours ago Watchtroll celebrated the lobbyist in chief, Makan Delrahim.

Writing about Andrew Hirshfeld, who nearly became a Director of the USPTO (based on rumours at one time), Stephen C. Glazier (Partner at Akerman LLP) relayed this “webinar” nonsense, organised by patent maximalists to better suit their agenda. Glazier uses Patently-O as his platform and speaks of “Increasing Certainty in US Patent Law,” which should not be a problem at all. If one cares about certainty, then one should instruct examiners to stop granting abstract patents altogether. Here’s what Hirshfeld is said to have said:

On April 26, 2018 the U.S. Patent Commissioner, Andrew Hirshfeld, spoke at our webinar regarding current developments at the U.S. Patent Office. [Link Below]

A major theme of Commissioner Hirshfeld’s remarks was the PTO’s revived focus on increasing reliability, certainty, and enforceability of issued patents and the application process. The underlying goal here is to further increase the value of patents and their beneficial impact on innovative products and businesses.

The Commissioner stated that a first step toward this policy goal will be pursued by new PTO guidance to Examiners and the applicants regarding the application of the Alice-Mayo test for patent subject matter eligibility under Section 101. Other possible PTO guidance is also being considered on various current issues.

Anticipat, which is trying to make money out of PTAB bashing, has stepped in to also mention “predictability”. “The recent memos offer some hope that USPTO will continue to improve the predictability of applying Section 101 rejections,” it said. How about just actually applying Section 101 consistently at examination time?

“…to improve the certainty/confidence (or “predictability”) of patents simply stop granting patents in defiance of Alice/Section 101.”The reason PTAB so often invalidates patents is simple; examiners grant patents that they should not be granting. It’s easier for these people to simply attack PTAB itself, not examiners who grant in a rush. Watchtroll himself (Quinn) is back to PTAB bashing (“Structural Bias at the PTAB: No Dissent Desired”). Been a while since the last time? These patent extremists have been reduced to tribunal bashing, judge bashing, and conspiracy theories (especially about Google).

The anti-PTAB (i.e. anti-patent quality) site Anticipat continues to stalk individual USPTO examiners, pretty much with the intention of maligning good ones (strict, thorough examination). To quote:

The USPTO has a vested interest in knowing how well its patent examiners examine applications. It tracks production, efficiency and quality. Even though quality examination has always been tricky to measure, one metric comes pretty close: an examiner’s appeal track record. And while tech center directors have had access to this data, until recently this has been difficult to access. Here we explore the known gaps of how this metric is being used at the USPTO.

According to sources at the USPTO, directors–who oversee each technology center–have access to their Examiners’ appeal track records. The more an Examiner gets affirmed by the PTAB on appeal, the more reasonable the Examiner’s rejections, the theory goes. This means that directors can evaluate examiners based on how often an examiner gets affirmed.

Let’s just say it again: to improve the certainty/confidence (or “predictability”) of patents simply stop granting patents in defiance of Alice/Section 101. That oughtn’t be so hard, right?

The International Trade Commission (ITC/USITC) Will Possibly Get Abolished Unless It Can Reform Itself

Monday 11th of June 2018 03:22:07 AM

Example from last month, impacting a Japanese firm

Summary: The ‘International’ Trade Commission (actually US, it’s not an international agency) continues to overzealously guard US interests, even if that means blocking the competition from abroad, based on some sketchy patents with burden of proof on the accused

The ITC is the US ‘embargo’ (e.g. imports ban) agency, at least for patent complaints; it often seems like it’s just serving exceptionally large US corporations that can afford access to it; it’s rare to see small companies or foreign companies utilising ITC. Microsoft used ITC for one of the earlier instances of patent aggression (against rival computer mice) and in recent years we’ve been covering several instances of ITC misuse of laws or failing to respect tribunals such as the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB), even if the Federal Circuit later affirmed its decisions. Something is clearly not working right at the ITC (law not being applied correctly, or sanctions applied prematurely without proper due process) and it could use a reboot if not just “the boot”. According to this short report (behind a paywall), ITC changes its rules. To quote Managing IP:

The International Trade Commission (ITC) has implemented 11 rule changes in an attempt to modernise and clarify the existing system. Coming into effect today, some changes simply formalise existing practices; others may cause complainants to rethink their approach.

If ITC fails to reform itself, which has thus far been the case, then it might simply perish. Agencies like ITC stigmatise themselves as uncaring for justice/legal process.

Do Know Evil? Then Stop Patenting Software, Google

Monday 11th of June 2018 02:55:19 AM

Google is patenting algorithms (sometimes not even its own)

Summary: Complaints that Google is claiming credit for other people’s work and then patenting that, in effect ‘pulling an Edison’ to stockpile questionable patents while occasionally resorting to patent aggression

LAST year someone told us the story of how Google had used Alex Converse to patent someone else's work. This was particularly disturbing not just because of prior art but also because of patent scope.

“It would be bad if Google ever got granted any patent on anything related to asymmetric numeral systems (ANS) because it’s an algorithm.”Well, the originator of the method speaks out again. Jarek Duda was making some headlines last year and now he’s back. Rather than walk away and apologise Google seems to be doubling down on its bad practice, which involves patenting software:

When Jarek Duda invented an important new compression technique called asymmetric numeral systems (ANS) a few years ago, he wanted to make sure it would be available for anyone to use. So instead of seeking patents on the technique, he dedicated it to the public domain. Since 2014, Facebook, Apple, and Google have all created software based on Duda’s breakthrough.

But now Google is seeking a patent that would give it broad rights over the use of ANS for video compression. And Duda, a computer scientist at Jagiellonian University in Poland, isn’t happy about it.

Google denies that it’s trying to patent Duda’s work. A Google spokesperson told Ars that Duda came up with a theoretical concept that isn’t directly patentable, while Google’s lawyers are seeking to patent a specific application of that theory that reflects additional work by Google’s engineers.

How is that even patentable? The Google-hostile Mr. Gross said a few days ago, “guess which big co had NO trouble getting clearly Alice-ineligible applications rubberstamped at PTO while Director Lee was in charge? GOOGLE of course! this filing on 2 “modes” of AV operation would have been sh*tcanned by anyone else under 101 as “abstract idea”…” (image copied at the top)

“Generally speaking, especially in light of Alice, there’s no room for patents on algorithms in the patents repository.”Maintaining that conspiracy theory that Google is behind everything, these people would have us believe that Google enjoys special treatment. It would be bad if Google ever got granted any patent on anything related to asymmetric numeral systems (ANS) because it’s an algorithm. Generally speaking, especially in light of Alice, there’s no room for patents on algorithms in the patents repository. Do Know Evil, Google?

Links 10/6/2018: Devuan ASCII 2.0.0 and Tails 3.7.1

Sunday 10th of June 2018 06:49:31 PM

Contents GNU/Linux
  • Desktop
    • Linux Apps (Crostini) Headed To A Lot More Chromebooks

      The Chromium developers have been very busy as of late bringing life to the Crostini Project that will give users the ability to run Linux apps “natively” on Chrome OS. While Linux on Chromebooks isn’t a new trick, the Crostini UI presents a clean, hack-free method to launch Linux apps from the terminal app that will eventually live in Chrome OS’s app drawer when enabled.

      Initially birthed in Google’s own Pixelbook, Linux apps on Chrome OS has now spread to ARM in the form of the Samsung Chromebook Plus. Although it’s still in its infancy, it’s becoming clear that developers are pushing to make the Crostini project a stable part of the Chromebook ecosystem.

    • Battery on my new Librem 13

      Being lazy, I wanted a way to automate that when using my new Librem laptop. Again, I could look into a power/charging threshold for the Librem. But for less than $20, I picked up a power strip that had a timer (Century 8 Outlet Surge Protector with Mechanical Timer). Four outlets on the strip are always on, and four are connected to a built-in timer. That allows me to plug in my monitor and LED desk light to an always-on outlet, and my laptop to a timed outlet. I still turn the power strip off when I’m not using the computer, but that’s a habit I’ve had for ages, so that’s not a big deal.

      The power needs for a laptop aren’t that big, so I’m not worried about over-taxing the power strip. This thing is built to run high-load devices like an aquarium water pump and light, or a heat lamp for a terrarium. The Librem runs a pretty light load in comparison: about 60-80W when charging the battery, according to user “Derriell” on the Purism forum.

      I’m still tweaking the duty cycle. My goal is to exercise the battery somewhere between 20% and 80%. The Librem 13 will run on battery for roughly seven to nine hours, and it takes upwards of four hours to fully recharge, so right now I have the power strip timer set at five hours “off” and three hours “on.” So if I only have the power strip turned on when I’m using the computer, the laptop is running from battery for five hours, then it charges for three hours, then it’s back to battery. I have to keep the total (eight hours) evenly divisible by twenty-four hours.

      Maybe I’m overthinking it, but this seems a good solution to me. How do you manage the battery on your laptop? If there’s a more elegant way, let me know in the comments.

  • Server
  • Kernel Space
    • Linux Kernel 4.17

      Ezequiel Garcia, who recently joined our team, fixed some rockchip ASoC issues. Tomeu Vizoso continued taking care and sending patches of any bug or improvement he founds, that includes a fix for the virtio driver and another for the USB DWC2 controller.

      Gustavo Padovan sent a patch to fix a link for the media documentation. And finally, Sebastian upstreamed a patch to enable secure register access for Bx50v3 devices that Peter Senna did whilst employed at Collabora.

    • Interning at an Open Source Consultancy

      A big draw to selecting Collabora as my employer was the opportunity to work on open source software. I had previously spent the summer of 2017 working on my first contributions to open source projects such as Rust and Firefox. Initially, it was an excuse for me to write and learn more Rust, but with time I grew to really enjoy the process. I certainly do have to commend Mozilla for their exceptional work in introducing newcomers to their projects. As someone who did not have prior professional working experience, getting to work, contribute, and follow real-world software development processes thrilled me.

    • Coming Soon: Wacom Firmware Updates on Linux

      Red Hat’s Richard Hughes shares word on work he’s done with Wacom engineers to support Wacom’s custom update protocol on Linux.

      At present, Wacom advise their customers to upgrade firmware on their graphics tablets using a dedicated desktop app which is only available for Windows and macOS.

      But no longer will open source creatives need to keep a dual-boot handy for this purpose.

    • A Look At The Features Merged So Far For The Linux 4.18 Kernel

      We are about half-way through the Linux 4.18 kernel merge window, so here is a look at the most interesting work that’s been merged so far for this next kernel release that should debut as stable around mid-August.

      In the first week of the Linux 4.18 merge window, highlights include:

      - The big platter of DRM graphics driver updates always has us most excited and it’s no different with Linux 4.18 from AMDGPU improvements to Intel Icelake work to NVIDIA Volta open-source enablement.

    • Linux 4.18 Drops The Lustre File-System

      There are a lot of staging changes for the busy Linux 4.18 kernel merge window.

      The staging area of the kernel where premature/incomplete kernel code goes has seen over one thousand patches this cycle that amount to 168 thousand lines of new code and 227 thousand lines of code removed. In part for the staging area coming in lighter is the Lustre file-system has been removed.

    • Linux 4.18 Gets AMD Patches For Speculative Store Bypass / Spectre V4

      Linux 4.17 landed the initial Spectre V4 mitigation as “Speculative Store Bypass Disable” (SSBD) while primarily focused on Intel CPUs and for Linux 4.18 the SSBD code has been updated for AMD processors.

      The in-development Linux 4.18 kernel will receive the patches for making use of the SPEC_CTRL / VIRT_SPEC MSRs to be provided by future AMD CPUs / firmware updates. The AMD SSBD work done by Konrad Rzeszutek Wilk of Oracle was previously covered here. The AMD SSBD whitepaper can be read here.

    • Linux 4.18 Landing Restartable Sequences System Call, Yields Performance Benefits

      Adding to the list of new features for Linux 4.18 is the long-in-development work on the restartable sequences system call.

      The new RSEQ system call allows for faster user-space operations on per-CPU data by providing a shared data structure ABI between each user-space thread and the kernel. This allows update operations on per-CPU data without needing expensive atomic operations. The restartable sequences ABI can make faster querying the current CPU number, incrementing per-CPU counters, modifying data protected by per-CPU spinlocks, writing/reading per-CPU ring buffers, and more.

    • Linux Foundation
    • Graphics Stack
      • A Revived Linux Driver To Be Attempted For The ATI RAGE 128

        The ATI Rage 128 series was introduced in 1998 while now twenty years later a renewed DDX driver and potentially DRM/KMS kernel driver is going to be attempted for these AGP/PCI graphics cards from the days of OpenGL 1.2.

        The ATI RAGE 128 family was great back in 1998 when it was going up against the Voodoo 3 and RIVA TNT while now for those Linux users who are fans of vintage hardware, there’s going to be a renewed driver push. That’s hardware back from the days when GPUs could have less than 10 million transistors, were manufactured on a 250nm process, and just over 100MHz clock speeds with SDR memory.

      • NVIDIA 340.107 Legacy Linux Driver Brings X.Org Server 1.20 Support

        NVIDIA has rounded out their supported Linux drivers with X.Org Server 1.20 support.

        NVIDIA’s latest 396 driver series has supported the X.Org Server 1.20 ABI since before xorg-server 1.20.0 was released and since then has been brought to the 390 long-term driver series earlier this week and now the NVIDIA 340 legacy driver series. The 340 driver series is what’s providing the maintenance-only support for the GeForce 8 and GeForce 9 series.

      • RADV Vulkan Driver Should Now Work Much Better With DXVK For Direct3D 11 Wine Gaming

        For those relying upon DXVK for running Direct3D 11 games over Vulkan with Wine, the RADV Vulkan driver from Mesa Git should now be working out much better for this fast-developing graphics translation layer.

        DXVK continues making great strides for delivering a performant D3D11-over-Vulkan implementation for Wine games/applications. For those using the open-source Radeon Vulkan “RADV” driver in Mesa 17.2-dev, the experience should be much more pleasant.

      • X.Org To Proceed Migrating Their Code & Bugs To GitLab

        Red Hat’s Adam Jackson has announced the X.Org plans for the GitLab migration. X.Org will make use of GitLab for the Git repositories and bug tracking, as a replacement to Cgit and Bugzilla.

      • AMDVLK Vulkan Driver Ships Latest Fixes, Optimizations

        The AMD Radeon driver developers maintaining the open-source AMDVLK Vulkan Linux driver have pushed out their latest week’s worth of changes.

        On Friday was their usual push of the latest LLVM/XGL/PAL code-bases making up this Radeon Vulkan open-source driver that is an alternative to the Mesa-based RADV driver.

    • Benchmarks
      • 28-Way Linux CPU/System Comparison From Old To New

        This week have been various unique and extra articles and benchmarks for commemorating the Phoronix 14th birthday. The latest of these fun articles is taking a look back at how various CPUs over the years compare to today’s Intel Core and AMD Ryzen offerings.

  • Applications
    • Markdown – style text on the web

      Markdown is a plain text formatting syntax created by John Gruber in 2004. It’s designed to be easy-to-read and easy-to-write.

      Readability is at the very heart of Markdown. It offers the advantages of plain text, provides a convenient format for writing for the web, but it’s not intended to be a replacement for HTML. Markdown is a writing format, not a publishing format. You control the display of the document; formatting words as bold or italic, adding images, and creating lists are just a few of the things we can do with Markdown. Mostly, Markdown is just regular text with a few non-alphabetic characters included, such as # or *.

    • The best Linux VPN 2018

      For obvious reasons, Linux tends to attract users who are more tech savvy and privacy aware than most Windows or macOS users, which makes a VPN a pretty natural fit for the operating system.

      Unfortunately, only a few VPN providers actually offer dedicated software clients for Linux, and if you don’t opt for one of them you’ll be stuck fiddling around in the system console (not that that’s anything new to Linux users, of course…). With that in mind we’ve rounded up the best VPNs for Linux with a dedicated app, along with a few that don’t.

    • Formiko, a reStructuredText Editor for Python Documentation

      Today, we are going to take a quick look at little editor built with Python that I recently became aware of.

    • zstd – A Fast Data Compression Algorithm Used By Facebook

      When required, it can trade compression speed for stronger compression ratios (compression speed vs compression ratio trade-off can be configured by small increments), vice versa. It has a special mode for small data compression, known as dictionary compression, and can build dictionaries from any sample set provided. It comes with a command line utility for creating and decoding .zst, .gz, .xz and .lz4 files.

      [...]

      Importantly, Zstandard has a rich collection of APIs, supports almost all popular programming languages including Python, Java, JavaScript, Nodejs, Perl, Ruby, C#, Go, Rust, PHP, Switft, and lots more.

    • Proprietary
      • FOSS Project Spotlight: the Codelobster IDE–a Free PHP, HTML, CSS and JavaScript Editor [Ed: Sad to see Linux Journal back to pushing proprietary software which mostly targets Windows]

        The Codelobster free web language editor has been available for quite some time and has attracted many fans. It allows you to edit PHP, HTML, CSS and JavaScript files, and it highlights the syntax and provides hints for tags, functions and their parameters. This editor deals with files that contain mixed content easily as well.

    • Instructionals/Technical
    • Games
      • 25-Way NVIDIA/AMD Linux Graphics Comparison For Vulkan-Powered Thrones Of Britannia

        This week Mac/Linux game porting company released the Linux port of A Total War Saga: THRONES OF BRITANNIA, just two months after this game was released for Windows. With the Linux port of this strategy game the Vulkan API is being used for graphics rendering, which makes it interesting for benchmarking. Here is our extensive look at the performance of this major Linux game port when testing twenty-five different AMD Radeon and NVIDIA GeForce graphics cards to see how this game is performing on Ubuntu Linux.

      • Chroma Blast is a rather nice & free twin-stick shooter that’s now on Linux

        It’s completely free as well, no micro-transactions or any of that rubbish. They said they couldn’t test the Linux version themselves, but in my testing it seemed to work great! If you use a Steam Controller, you will need to set the right pad into Joystick Camera to allow for constant shooting (how it’s supposed to be).

      • FPS ‘Membrane’ follows a protagonist who has been surgically attached to an alien organism

        That’s quite a title for an article isn’t it! Membrane, currently crowdfunding on IndieGoGo is a GZDoom-powered 90′s inspired FPS that will support Linux.

        The developers have already worked on it for years, but they’re now wanting to have a bigger push and work on it full time. They’re seeking $4K from their crowdfunding campaign, although it’s using a flexible goal so they will receive any funds pledged even if they do not hit their goal.

      • Play It Now – MidBoss

        Welcome to the second review in the PIN (Play It NOW) series. We’re going to be looking at quite a recent title called MidBoss by the awesome Kitsune Games and ported by the excellent Ethan Lee. A game full of superlatives then, and now here’s my PIN, urging you to take a look.

      • Turn-based RPG dungeon crawler ‘Robothorium’ is now in Early Access with Linux support

        Out now in Early Access with Linux support, Robothorium sees you lead your very own robot uprising. Developed by Goblinz Studio, the same team behind Dungeon Rushers.

      • Stoneshard: Prologue, the alpha demo of the RPG Stoneshard is now on Linux

        With Stoneshard currently going through crowdfunding, the developers have finally released the Stoneshard: Prologue alpha demo on Linux.

        The Kickstarter is currently doing very well, with only 6 days to go they’ve managed to reach well over their initial goal. They’ve got around $65K in funding, which means they hit their first stretch goal to include new dungeons and enemies.

      • Indivisible, the new action-RPG from the creator of Skullgirls has a new trailer

        Indivisible [Official Site] looks really quite good, a nice colourful action-RPG from the creator of Skullgirls, due next year with Linux support and it has a new trailer.

      • The Endless Mission is a single-player story game that allows you to modify the world

        The Endless Mission sounds like a confusing mash-up of many genres in a story-based game that allows you to change the rules.

      • A Closer Look At The GeForce GTX 1060 vs. Radeon RX 580 In Thrones of Britannia

        As it stands right now the most competitive graphics card battle on the Linux gaming front is the Radeon RX 580 against the GeForce GTX 1060. NVIDIA continues with their first-rate performant drivers while the Polaris hardware on the open-source RADV/RadeonSI drivers is mature enough now that it’s competing with the GTX 1060 like it should be and in some cases even performing much better than the NVIDIA Pascal part. With this week’s release of Thrones of Britannia and powered by Vulkan, here is an extensive look at the two competing GPUs and their performance.

      • Cities: Skylines – Good Traffic Guide

        This splendid city building simulation is no stranger to Dedoimedo. I’ve talked about the game at length, covering both the original release and the combined After Dark and Snowfall expansions, and recently also covered the relatively new Mass Transit DLC. But that’s not all. We have also talked about traffic management. A lot.

        Like most urban simulators, the game places heavy focus on the road infrastructure – let’s face it, a city cannot function without transportation, and everything else is a derivative of the tarmac grid, even if you do not really use grids in your games, ha ha. I’ve shed some personal advice on how to handle smooth flowing traffic against organic city growth, and the use of underground tunnels to achieve extra throughput and better aesthetics in your cities. Now, with Mass Transit offering a whole new range of additional transport technologies, I wanted to compile a complete guide on making your traffic perfect. Let us.

  • Desktop Environments/WMs
    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt
      • Release of KDE Frameworks 5.47.0

        KDE today announces the release of KDE Frameworks 5.47.0.

        KDE Frameworks are 70 addon libraries to Qt which provide a wide variety of commonly needed functionality in mature, peer reviewed and well tested libraries with friendly licensing terms. For an introduction see the Frameworks 5.0 release announcement.

        This release is part of a series of planned monthly releases making improvements available to developers in a quick and predictable manner.

      • KDE Frameworks 5.47 Released With Various Improvements

        The latest monthly update is now available to the KDE Frameworks that complements the capabilities of the Qt5 tool-kit.

      • GSoC Fwupd Integration in KDE Discover (Phase – I)
      • This week in Usability & Productivity, part 22

        This has been another strong week for KDE’s Usability and Productivity initiative!

      • How to recover a completely dead Plasma desktop

        Dead desktops are never a pretty sight. Irrecoverable desktops even more so. I really wonder what can go so horribly wrong that even if you fully reinstall and move away all the desktop-related settings, things are still awfully bad. No matter, in this tutorial, I’ve shown you how you can regain control over your Plasma desktop even if things are seemingly lost.

        True, you can always boot into any which live CD session and copy your data or install a different desktop environment. But what if your home rests on the same partition and you cannot afford formats? Or if you actually want to continue using Plasma? Well, it comes down to managing the login session, and then creating a new user that will take over the fiasco. Technically, we cheated, but then, if you date twins, and you can’t tell them apart, is it your fault for using the wrong name? Anyway, I just wanted to let you know that no matter how seemingly bad things are, it’s never a lost cause. And remember, always have backups. Take care.

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK
      • How to Use GNOME Shell’s Secret Screen Recorder

        So you want to record your Ubuntu desktop, but you don’t know which desktop screen recorder to use?

        Well, have you considered not using one at all?

        Don’t look at me strangely: I promise this makes sense.

        You’ve likely seen videos on YouTube where people share a screencast of their Linux desktops. Perhaps you want to join the fun. Well, you can, and you don’t need any special tools or separate screen recorder apps to do it.

      • A new completion engine for Builder

        Since my initial announcement of Builder at GUADEC in 2014, I’ve had a vision in the back of my mind about how I’d like completion to work in Builder. However, there have been more important issues to solve and I’m just one person. So it was largely put on the back burner because after a few upstream patches, the GtkSourceView design was good enough.

        However, as we start to integrate more external tooling into Builder, the demands and design of what those completion layers expect of the application have changed. And some of that is in conflict with the API/ABI we have in the long-term stable versions of GtkSourceView.

  • Distributions
    • New Releases
    • OpenSUSE/SUSE
      • GeckoLinux updates all ROLLING and STATIC spins

        The GeckoLinux project is pleased to release updated spins of both ROLLING and STATIC editions. GeckoLinux spins are based on the openSUSE distribution, with a focus on polish and out-of-the-box usability on the desktop. A large variety of customized desktop options are available in STATIC (based on openSUSE Leap) and ROLLING (based on openSUSE Tumbleweed) editions. After installation to the hard disk, a GeckoLinux system will continue to receive updates from the openSUSE and Packman infrastructures. An installed system can even be upgraded smoothly to future openSUSE releases while at the same time retaining its unique GeckoLinux configuration.

    • Red Hat Family
    • Debian Family
      • Talk about the Debian GNU/Linux riscv64 port at RISC-V workshop

        About a month ago I attended the RISC-V workshop (conference, congress) co-organised by the Barcelona Supercomputing Center (BSC) and Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya (UPC).

        There I presented a talk with the (unimaginative) name of “Debian GNU/Linux Port for RISC-V 64-bit”, talking about the same topic as many other posts of this blog.

        There are 2-3 such RISC-V Workshop events per year, one somewhere in Silicon Valley (initially at UC Berkeley, its birthplace) and the others spread around the world.

        The demographics of this gathering are quite different to those of planet-debian; the people attending usually know a lot about hardware and often Linux, GNU toolchains and other FOSS, but sometimes very little about the inner workings of FOSS organisations such as Debian. My talk had these demographics as target, so a lot of its content will not teach anything new for most readers of planet-debian.

      • Debian LTS work, May 2018

        I was assigned 15 hours of work by Freexian’s Debian LTS initiative and worked all those hours.

      • Derivatives
        • Tails 3.7.1 is out

          This release fixes many security issues and users should upgrade as soon as possible.

        • Devuan ASCII 2.0.0 stable

          Dear Init Freedom Lovers

          Once again the Veteran Unix Admins salute you!

          We are happy to announce that Devuan GNU+Linux 2.0 ASCII Stable is
          finally available.

          Devuan is a GNU+Linux distribution committed to providing a universal,
          stable, dependable, free software operating system that uses and
          promotes alternatives to systemd and its components.

          Devuan 2.0 ASCII runs on several architectures. Installer CD and DVD
          ISOs, as well as desktop-live and minimal-live ISOs, are available for
          i386 and amd64. Ready-to-use images can be downloaded for a number of
          ARM platforms and SOCs, including Raspberry Pi, BeagleBone, OrangePi,
          BananaPi, OLinuXino, Cubieboard, Nokia and Motorola mobile phones, and
          several Chromebooks, as well as for Virtualbox/QEMU/Vagrant.

          The Devuan 2.0 ASCII installer ISOs offer a variety of Desktop
          Environments including Xfce, KDE, MATE, Cinnamon, LXQt, with others
          available post-install. The expert install mode now offers a choice of
          either SysVinit or OpenRC as init system. In addition, there are
          options for “Console productivity” with hundreds of CLI and TUI utils,
          as well as a minimal base system ideal for servers. The minimal-live
          image provides a full-featured console-based system with a particular
          focus on accessibility.

        • Debian 9 Without Systemd: Devuan GNU+Linux 2.0 Released By “Veteran Unix Admins”

          Back in late 2014, a team of “Veteran Unix Admins” announced their plans to release a systemd-free fork of Debian GNU+Linux; it was named Devuan. In mid-2017, the first Devuan 1.0 release arrived. Following the same, Devuan 2.0 has just been shipped by the developers as a stable release to provide an alternative to systemd and its components.

        • Devuan 2.0 Released For Debian Stretch Without Systemd

          Devuan 2.0 has now been released as stable, the downstream of Debian GNU/Linux that aims for “init freedom” by decoupling the packages from being dependent upon systemd.

        • Devuan ASCII 2.0.0 stable
        • Devuan ASCII 2.0.0 stable release
        • Canonical/Ubuntu
          • Adoption of Flatpak vs Snap (2018 edition)

            Because Flatpak comes in two types, regular release (0.11.x) and “Stable” (=LTS, 0.10.x), the latest Stable release counts as well. With Flatpak 0.11.8’s hotfix only released 4 hours ago, it could not have passed the QA of any serious distribution, so 0.11.7 counts as latest for now.

            Green means the latest version is in an official repository.
            Yellow means that either the latest version is in an add-on repo or the package is in an official repository but with some problems.
            Red means either not available at all or in some barely maintained (or even abandoned) add-on repository.

          • A Look At Flatpak vs. Snap Adoption In Various 2018 Linux Distributions

            KDE developer Markus Slopianka has looked at the state of Flatpak and Snap application deployment/sandboxing technologies across the state of several Linux distributions.

  • Devices/Embedded
Free Software/Open Source
  • You’re Thinking About Autonomous Vehicles Wrong

    George Hotz, the hacker-turned-founder of an open-source self-driving startup, has a different philosophy of autonomy.

  • Events
    • Software events in Málaga

      OpenSouthCode is a general purpose FOSS event, very popular among students and local hackers. Last year I talked about the FOSS automotive platforms developed by AGL and GENIVI. This year I provided an overview of CIP, the work that we are currently doing and near future plans. Check the slides for more information.

      OpenSouthCode in a two days event. The first one, on a Friday, is all about workshops, meetup and training activities while the second one, on a Saturday, is reserved for talks in Spanish.

      If you live in the South of Spain or happen to be around when this event takes place, I totally recommend it.

  • Web Browsers
    • Chrome
      • Google Chrome 68 Enters Beta with New “Add to Home Screen” Behavior for PWAs

        Google has promoted the upcoming Chrome 68 web browser to the Chrome Beta channel on Thursday for Chrome OS, Linux, Android, Chrome OS, macOS, and Windows platforms.

        Chrome 68 promises to be yet another incremental update that introduces new APIs (Application Programming Interfaces) for developers, namely the Payment Handler API and the Page Lifecycle API, as well as an improved “add to home screen” behavior for PWAs (Progressive Web Apps) that allows users to add them to the home screen on their Android devices.

      • The Best Chrome Extensions for Managing Tabs

        Crashing pages, slow performance, or just not being able to find that one tab you need to get back to—you’ve probably felt the effects of tab overload. If you use Chrome, though, there are some great extensions to help you manage all those tabs.

    • Mozilla
      • Browse Websites Side by Side Using Side View Feature on Mozilla Firefox Web Browser | Test Pilot

        Mozilla Firefox Test Pilot program is intended to provide a new experimental features on the latest release of Mozilla Firefox. Here’s a new highly demanded feature many users have been waiting for is now available on Test Pilot program for Mozilla Firefox, It’s Mozilla Firefox Side View which allows you to browse websites side by side.

      • Things Gateway – Nest Thermostat & the Pellet Stove

        Back in January of 2014, I wrote a blog post called Hacking a Pellet Stove to Work with Nest. It was a narrative about trying to use the advanced features of the Nest learning thermostat to control a pellet stove in the volatile temperature environment of a yurt.

        [...]

        Once this software was complete and tested, I installed it on a dedicated Raspberry Pi, set the jumpers for controlling the relay board, wired the 24VAC thermostat relay and then wired the pellet stove components. It started working immediately. It doesn’t need the Things Gateway to run in its basic mode.

        My Things Gateway doesn’t run in the yurt, it lives in my office in the old original farm house. Fortunately, ten years ago, I trenched in gigabit Ethernet between all my buildings. So, while standing in the yurt, I opened the Things Gateway in Firefox running on my Android tablet. I added the Pellet Stove thing, and it all worked correctly.

        There appears to be a minor bug here. Only the “low_linger_minutes” and “medium_linger_minutes” are settable by the user. However, the Things Gateway is allowing all the other fields to be settable, too – even though setting them doesn’t actually do anything. I’ve not yet figured out if this is a bug in my code or in the Things-URL adapter.

      • This week in Mixed Reality: Issue 9

        Next week, the team will be in San Francisco for an all-Mozilla company meeting.

      • Building Firefox for ALSA (non PulseAudio) Sound

        I did the work to built my own Firefox primarily to fix a couple of serious regressions that couldn’t be fixed any other way. I’ll start with the one that’s probably more common (at least, there are many people complaining about it in many different web forums): the fact that Firefox won’t play sound on Linux machines that don’t use PulseAudio.

        There’s a bug with a long discussion of the problem, Bug 1345661 – PulseAudio requirement breaks Firefox on ALSA-only systems; and the discussion in the bug links to another discussion of the Firefox/PulseAudio problem). Some comments in those discussions suggest that some near-future version of Firefox may restore ALSA sound for non-Pulse systems; but most of those comments are six months old, yet it’s still not fixed in the version Mozilla is distributing now.

      • Let’s kill kittens with native messaging (or, introducing OverbiteNX: if WebExtensions can’t do it, we will)

        WebExtensions (there is no XUL) took over with a thud seven months ago, which was felt as a great disturbance in the Force by most of us who wrote Firefox add-ons that, you know, actually did stuff. Many promises were made for APIs to allow us to do the stuff we did before. Some of these promises were kept and these APIs have actually been implemented, and credit where credit is due. But there are many that have not (that metabug is not exhaustive). More to the point, there are many for which people have offered to write code and are motivated to write code, but we have no parameters for what would be acceptable, possibly because any spec would end up stuck in a “boil the ocean” problem, possibly because it’s low priority, or possibly because someone gave other someones the impression such an API would be acceptable and hasn’t actually told them it isn’t. The best way to get contribution is to allow people to scratch their own itches, but the urgency to overcome the (largely unintentional) institutional roadblocks has faded now that there is somewhat less outrage, and we are still left with a disordered collection of APIs that extends Firefox relatively little and a very slow road to do otherwise.

        Or perhaps we don’t have to actually rely on what’s in Firefox to scratch our itch, at least in many cases. In a potentially strategically unwise decision, WebExtensions allows native code execution in the form of “native messaging” — that is, you can write a native component, tell Firefox about it and who can talk to it, and then have that native component do what Firefox don’t. At that point, the problem then becomes more one of packaging. If the functionality you require isn’t primarily limited by the browser UI, then this might be a way around the La Brea triage tarpit.

      • Fixing Content Scripts on GitHub.com

        Content scripts ordinarily reload for each new page visited but, on GitHub, they don’t. This is because links on GitHub mutate the DOM and use the history.pushState API instead of loading pages the standard way, which would create an entirely new DOM per page.

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice
    • PDF Importing Improvements Head Into LibreOffice

      It’s too late for the upcoming LibreOffice 6.1, but LibreOffice 6.2 will feature PDF importing improvements.

      Ashod Nakashian of Collabora landed a number of PDF importing improvements this week into the open-source office suite. This includes support for importing PDF images, importing PDF text, and a wide variety of work related to that. Some of that heavy lifting with PDF is being done using PDFium, the library for PDF rendering that Google developed for Chrome, which has been bundled in LibreOffice since last year.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)
  • BSD
    • Silent Fanless FreeBSD Desktop/Server

      Today I will write about silent fanless FreeBSD desktop or server computer … or NAS … or you name it, it can have multiple purposes. It also very low power solution, which also means that it will not overheat. Silent means no fans at all, even for the PSU. The format of the system should also be brought to minimum, so Mini-ITX seems best solution here.

    • Your own VPN with OpenIKED & OpenBSD

      This guide will walk through the set up of an IKEv2 VPN using OpenIKED on OpenBSD. It will detail a “road warrior” configuration, and use a PSK (pre-shared-key) for authentication. I’m sure it can be easily adapted to work on any other platforms that OpenIKED is available on, but keep in mind my steps are specifically for OpenBSD.

    • FreeBSD 11.2-RC2 Now Available

      The second RC build of the 11.2-RELEASE release cycle is now available.

    • FreeBSD 11.2-RC2 Ships This Weekend With Various Fixes

      The second release candidate of FreeBSD 11.2 is now available for testing.

      FreeBSD 11.2 has been baking Spectre and Meltdown protection, various kernel improvements, and a wide variety of minor driver updates over 2017′s FreeBSD 11.1 release. The bulk of the development work though has been heading into FreeBSD 12.0-CURRENT for release next year or so.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration
    • Four New Jersey wineries collaborate on Open Source Chardonnay
    • Open Hardware/Modding
      • A Fully Open Source Raspberry Pi Synthesizer

        Have you ever seen something and instantly knew it was something you wanted, even though you weren’t aware it existed a few seconds ago? That’s how we felt when we received a tip about Zynthian, a fully open source (hardware and software) synthesizer. You can buy the kit online directly from the developers, or build your own from scratch using their documentation and source code. With a multitude of filters, effects, engines, and essentially unlimited upgrade potential, they’re calling it a “Swiss Army Knife of Synthesis”. We’re inclined to agree.

  • Programming/Development
    • GitHub’s New CEO Did a Reddit AMA, This is What he Said

      There is a growing concern that Microsoft may seek to bloat the service with add-ons, feature creep, and integrations with their own services, like Azure and LinkedIn.

      Is that likely?

    • 5 Github Alternatives

      Although GitHub is the most used platform for storing open source projects on the Internet but being acquired by Microsoft, the open source community may like to prefer the alternatives. So we have other very interesting options that we recommend to know in order to decide which one to publish and store your own creations and adaptations in the cloud.

    • Three Takes On Microsoft Acquiring Github

      But, as someone who believes in the value of reinvention and innovation among the tech industry, it’s not necessarily great to see successful mid-tier companies just gobbled up by giants. It happens — and perhaps it clears the field for something fresh and new. Perhaps it even clears the field for that utopic git-driven world that Ford envisions. But, in the present-tense, it’s at least a bit deflating to think that a very different, and very powerful, approach to the way people collaborate and code… ends up in Microsoft’s universe.

      And, as a final note on these three pieces: this is why we should seek out and promote people who actually understand technology and business in understanding what is happening in the technology world. The Guardian piece is laughable, because it appears to be written by someone with such a surface-level understanding of open source of free software that it comes off as utter nonsense. But the pieces by Ford and Thompson actually help add to our understanding of the news, while providing insightful takes on it. The Guardian (and others) should learn from that.

    • Mailing lists vs Github

      The alternative method is the developer mailing list. It arose in the late eighties to early nineties, and predates the popularity of the web browser. But far from being a mere historical curiosity, the discussion list is still the primary method of development in many important open source projects, from databases to operating systems to web browsers.

      In this article I’ll carefully compare the use of mailing lists with code collaboration web sites such as Github. I’ll do my best to present the pros and cons of each, so that projects assessing the two can make an informed decision.

    • Eclipse Che 6.6 Release Notes

      Eclipse Che 6.6 is here!

    • To do a Rust GUI

      Rust Qt Binding Generator (Logo by Alessandro Longo)

      Rust Qt Binding Generator lets you combine Rust code with a Qt1 graphical application. A previous blog shows how to make a simple clock. It’s a good idea to read that post before reading this more advanced post, because in this post we are getting serious.

      This blog post shows how to write a to-do application. The data model is a list of to-do items. The source code for this example is available in the folder examples/todos in the Rust Qt Binding Generator repository.

      Here is a screenshot of the finished application. The to-do application shows the steps to implement the to-do application. This application was the subject of a presentation on Rust Qt Binding Generator.

    • RcppDE 0.1.6

      Another maintenance release, now at version 0.1.6, of our RcppDE package is now on CRAN. It follows the most recent (unblogged, my bad) 0.1.5 release in January 2016 and the 0.1.4 release in September 2015.

      RcppDE is a “port” of DEoptim, a popular package for derivative-free optimisation using differential evolution optimization, to C++. By using RcppArmadillo, the code becomes a lot shorter and more legible. Our other main contribution is to leverage some of the excellence we get for free from using Rcpp, in particular the ability to optimise user-supplied compiled objective functions which can make things a lot faster than repeatedly evaluating interpreted objective functions as DEoptim (and, in fairness, just like most other optimisers) does.

    • RcppClassic 0.9.10

      A maintenance release RcppClassic 0.9.9 is now at CRAN. This package provides a maintained version of the otherwise deprecated first Rcpp API; no new projects should use it.

Leftovers
  • Ken Dreyer: Hope is my strategy

    In 2018 I’ve faced some hard decisions in my personal life, where I have to make choices every week for how I’m going to live and what I’m going to do. These choices affect others around me as well.

    At some point I have to stop gathering data. I don’t have the resources to do the exhaustive research I daydream about for every decision. And even if I did, it’s pure fantasy to think I can avoid pain and suffering in this life.

  • Lessons learned Working From Home

    It’s been close to 2 years now that I’ve been working from home. Home-office is something that’s viewed differently in tech circles. Some people like it, some don’t.

    I for one, absolutely love it. Since starting home office, I’ve felt more productive at work, I’ve started a bunch of open source projects (which never in my entire life I thought I would have the time and energy for), and I’ve saved so much time not commuting, it sometimes feels like cheating. All in all, highly recommended.

    So now that we know that this post is absolutely not biased, here’s my take on home office.

  • Science
    • Training a neural network in phase-change memory beats GPUs

      Phase-change memory is based on materials that can form two different structures, or phases, depending on how quickly they cool from a liquid. As the conductance of these phases differ, it’s possible to use this to store bits. It’s also possible to control the temperature such that the bit enters a state with intermediate conductance. In addition to storing bits, this can be used to perform calculations, as a bunch of sub-threshold phase changes can gradually add up to a bit flip.

  • Hardware
    • Hygon Dhyana: Chinese x86 Server CPUs Based On AMD Zen

      While there are the VIA/Centaur-based Zhaoxin desktop CPUs targeted for the Chinese market, it turns out there is another x86 Chinese CPU effort but this time is a collaboration with AMD.

      Chengdu Haiguang IC Design Co is a new x86 CPU vendor that is a joint venture between AMD and Haiguang Information Technology Co. This joint venture is aiming to make x86 CPUs for the Chinese server market. This deal was announced back in May and paid out $293 million to AMD for using their intellectual property.

      The first Hygon CPU offerings is the “Dhyana” family that is based upon AMD technology and is derived from the AMD Family 17h “Zen” micro-architecture.

  • Health/Nutrition
    • The Government’s New Contractor to Run Los Alamos Includes the Same Manager It Effectively Fired for Safety Problems

      The Department of Energy said it would seek new leadership for Los Alamos National Laboratory. But the University of California is still there, even after mismanagement caused it to lose its contract to run the lab — twice.

    • Anthony Bourdain: The Last Gasp of CNN’s Original Vision

      CNN began with the slogan, articulated by its founder Ted Turner: “The news is the star.”

      That has long since ceased to be a reflection of what CNN does. Despite promoting itself with its dubious “facts first” slogan, the network endlessly touts its celebrity pundits and anchors: Wolf Blitzer, Anderson Cooper, Chris Cuomo, Christiane Amanpour, Fareed Zakaria, et al. The view of the world that they depict is what the viewer needs to understand—not the world itself.

      Anthony Bourdain didn’t join CNN until 2013, didn’t do “news” per se, and his own personality was certainly a major part of his show, Parts Unknown, but the lens was largely on the places Bourdain went, whether Armenia or West Virginia, and the people he met there. This work was more mini-doc than anything else typically found on CNN.

      At his best, to Bourdain, the world was the star. The people, the cultures, the varied beliefs, the booze, the music, the rivers, the cities, the ethnic groups, what they share and their tensions. He’d often at least indicate class distinctions in his shows, at times gender dynamics as well. He spoke up in defense of the many immigrants in the restaurant industry, and was an ally of the #MeToo movement.

      [...]

      Bourdain’s death—and the improbability that CNN will again offer anything like it—should be a wake up call to a range of people, from documentary filmmakers to independent media outfits wanting to use the internet in creative ways: There’s a hunger among regular people in the US for the unvarnished realities of the rest of the world, and major media are serving up precious little to feed it.

  • Security
    • RedEye Ransomware Destroys Your PC Files If Payment Isn’t Made

      Cyptojacking is the latest buzzword in the cybersecurity world. The notorious cybercriminals have taken the advantage of the growing cryptocurrency craze. Prior to that, ransomware like WannaCry didn’t leave any stone unturned in ruining the digital lives of many people.

    • RedEye ransomware: there’s more than meets the eye
    • ARM64 Patches For Linux 4.18 Roll Out With Spectre V4 Mitigation

      The ARM64 (64-bit ARM / AArch64) architecture updates have been submitted today for the Linux 4.18 kernel.

      Arguably the most notable addition for ARM64 in Linux 4.18 is now having Spectre Variant Four mitigation after the ARM patches had been floating around in recent weeks. The ARM64 mitigation follows the x86 approach in Speculative Store Bypass Disable (SSBD) for addressing this recent CPU vulnerability. The ARM64 SSBD support relies upon an SMC firmware call to set a hardware chicken bit.

      The ARM64 pull also includes ACPI Processor Properties Topology Table (PPTT) support, which exposes processor and cache topology as part of the ACPI 6.2 specification. The ACPI PPTT ARM64 patches have been floating around since last year while now are merged.

    • arm64 patches for 4.18

      Please pull the arm64 updates for 4.18 below. Apart from the core arm64 and perf changes, the Spectre v4 mitigation touches the arm KVM code and the ACPI PPTT support touches drivers/ (acpi and cacheinfo). I should have the maintainers’ acks in place.

    • DevSecOps Gains Enterprise Traction
    • Chinese hackers [sic] stole sensitive data from Navy contractor: report
    • John Kelly’s phone was hacked [sic]

      Citing 2 unnamed U.S. officials, Politico says White House officials have narrowed down the time and likely location of the hack [sic]: President Donald Trump’s Washington transition headquarters, in late 2016.

    • Marcus Hutchins, WannaCry-killer, hit with four new charges by the FBI

      “Spend months and $100k+ fighting this case, then they go and reset the clock by adding even more bullshit charges like ‘lying to the FBI,’” Hutchins wrote on his Twitter, calling for donations by adding a quote from Starcraft video game: “We require more minerals.”

    • US Government Probes Airplane Vulnerabilities, Says Airline Hack [sic] Is ‘Only a Matter of Time’

      According to DHS and other US government documents obtained by Motherboard, the DHS is continuing to investigate how insecure commercial aircraft are to cyber attacks, with one research lab saying hacking a plane may lead to a “catastrophic disaster.”

    • Stymied by browsers, attackers embed Flash 0-day inside MS Office document

      On Thursday, Adobe published a patch for the critical vulnerability, indexed as CVE-2018-5002. The stack-based buffer overflow was being triggered in an Office document that embedded a link to a Flash file stored on people.dohabayt.com. Once executed, the malicious file then downloaded a malicious payload from the same domain. That’s according to researchers from security firms Icebrg and Qihoo 360, which independently discovered the attacks and privately reported them to Adobe and wrote about it here and here.

    • In a blow to e-voting critics, Brazil suspends use of all paper ballots

      In an 8-2 majority, justices on Wednesday sided with government arguments that the paper trails posed a risk to ballot secrecy, Brazil’s Folha De S.Paulo newspaper reported on Thursday. In so doing, the justices suspended a requirement that 5 percent of Brazil’s ballot boxes this year use paper. That requirement, by Brazil’s Supreme Electoral Court, already represented a major weakening of an election reform bill passed in 2015.

    • Cisco Continues to Advance Snort 3 Network Security Development

      The open-source Snort intrusion detection and prevention system (IPS/IDS) is gearing up for a major update that will influence the future of Cisco’s next generation security appliances.

      In a video interview with eWEEK, Marty Roesch vice-president and Chief Architect of Cisco’s Security Business Group discusses the current state of the Snort 3.0 project. Roesch is the original author of Snort, which became the foundation of his company Sourcefire, that Cisco acquired for $2.7 billion in October 2013. Work on Snort 3 has been ongoing since at least December 2014, and since the effort got underway has been viewed as a re-thinking of how IPS/IDS works. Roesch said that Snort 3 is largely feature complete at this point and is now going though its beta development cycle.

    • Book Review: Mastering Linux Security and Hardening
    • Ex-Talk Talk CEO shares lessons from massive 2015 data breach
    • A former CEO shares lessons from a massive 2015 data breach

      The company later found that the data of over 150,000 customers had been breached, with 15,656 bank account numbers and sort codes stolen.

    • InfoSec 2018. TalkTalk hack – lessons learned – the board perspective
  • Defence/Aggression
    • Can Google keep its promises on building ethical AI?
    • CIA archives offer a B-26-eye’s view of D-Day

      Remarkably, these photos were only declassified in 2013, just a year shy of the 70th anniversary of the Normandy landings. If the CIA had its way, they would have remained buried in a computer kiosk in suburban Maryland.

    • “Shadow wars have been accelerated and put on steroids by the Trump team”

      In October 2017, four American commandos were killed in a ferocious battle in a country with which the US was not at war, thousands of miles away from the Middle East and South Asian bases of the terrorist organisations America had spent the previous 16 years fighting. The Niger incident was a particularly dramatic example of a trend which is starting to cause concern among US policymakers: the military engagements unleashed in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks have become ever deeper, more geographically dispersed and murkier.

      The global war on terror has been through different iterations since President George W. Bush ordered the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan. As US troops became bogged down in messy insurgencies in those countries, Bush’s successor, President Barack Obama, sought to pursue what was presented as a more precise way of targeting enemies, whilst simultaneously seeking to withdraw ground troops. Commandos hunted insurgent leaders in Iraq and Afghanistan, while secret CIA drones unleashed missiles on the latter’s allies across the border in Pakistan. Drone strikes also crept up in Yemen and Somalia and the Bureau produced an award-winning body of work documenting this covert war’s unacknowledged human cost.

    • Does the Government Really Need this Much Power to Deal with an Attack of the Drones?

      Earlier this week, the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee held a hearing on the Preventing Emerging Threats Act of 2018 (S. 2836), which would give the Department of Justice and the Department of Homeland Security sweeping new authority to counter malicious drones. Officials from both those agencies as well as the Federal Aviation Administration were present to discuss the government’s current response to drones, and how it would like to be able to respond. Interestingly, both the Senators and the witnesses seem to agree that there are some large, unresolved constitutional questions in this bill. In light of those questions, EFF strongly opposes this bill.

      Among other things, the bill would authorize DOJ and DHS to “track,” “disrupt,” “control,” “seize or otherwise confiscate,” or even “destroy” unmanned aircraft that pose a “threat” to certain facilities or areas in the U.S. The bill also authorizes the government to “intercept” or acquire communications around the drone for these purposes, which could be read to include capturing video footage sent from the drone. Most concerning, many of the bill’s key terms are undefined, but it is clear that it provides extremely broad authority, exempting officials from following procedures that ordinarily govern electronic surveillance and hacking, such as the Wiretap Act, Electronic Communications Privacy Act, and the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.

      Given the breadth of these proposed new powers, you would expect officials to have a strong case for passing the bill. But even after the hearing, it’s not clear why DHS and DOJ need any expanded authority to go after “malicious” drones. For example, the FAA already has the ability to impose public flight restrictions for non-military aircraft, including drones. S. 2836 would expand those restrictions to any “covered facility or asset,” but does not narrowly define what is covered. Instead, the Secretary of Homeland Security or the Attorney General can make that determination, on their own, without public input and without public notice. While Committeeairman Ron Johnson claimed that the new authority would not give DHS the authority to “knock down drones flying around your backyard,” that’s not exactly true.

    • Google Tries Being Slightly Less Evil

      This week, researchers at the M.I.T. Media Lab, who’ve used artificial intelligence to do things like write horror stories and induce empathy, unveiled a new, skin-crawling exploration into the unsettling possibilities of A.I. Norman, a “psychopath A.I.,” is a “case study on the dangers of artificial intelligence gone wrong when biased data is used in machine-learning algorithms.” The M.I.T. team fed Norman data from a subreddit known for its graphic imagery of death, and then asked him to interpret Rorschach inkblots. The results were alarming: Where a standard A.I. saw a “close-up of a wedding cake on a table,” Norman saw a “man killed by speeding driver.” Where a standard A.I. saw “a group of birds sitting on top of a tree branch,” Norman saw “a man [that] is electrocuted and catches to death.”

    • Google Sets Limits on Its Use of AI but Allows Defense Work

      Earlier this year, Google CEO Sundar Pichai described artificial intelligence as more profound to humanity than fire. Thursday, after protests from thousands of Google employees over a Pentagon project, Pichai offered guidelines for how Google will—and won’t—use the technology. One thing Pichai says Google won’t do: work on AI for weapons. But the guidelines leave much to the discretion of company executives and allow Google to continue to work for the military.

      The ground rules are a response to more than 4,500 Googlers signing a letter protesting the company’s involvement in a Pentagon project called Maven that uses machine learning to interpret drone surveillance video.

    • Use of Armed Drones Increasing Under Trump

      America’s use of armed drones is increasing under President Donald Trump, according to a study released Thursday.

      The report by the nonpartisan Stimson Center think tank looks back at Trump’s drone actions during his first year in office, when he moved quickly to loosen some of the constraints put in place by his predecessor Barack Obama, AFP reported.

    • 4 killed, 618 injured in Palestinian clashes with Israeli soldiers in Gaza border

      Eyewitnesses said Israeli soldiers fired tear gas at journalists and TV crew in eastern Gaza. Palestinian demonstrators brought down an Israeli drone carrying a camera used to film demonstrators in eastern Gaza City.

      Five journalists were injured, including AFP photographer Mohamed al-Baba, who was shot in his right foot, and a cameraman working for the al-Aqsa Radio of Hamas, who was hit with a tear gas canister in his back, the Health Ministry in Gaza said.

      The ministry also accused Israeli soldiers of firing tear gas at the medical workers who were treating the injured protesters.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting
    • US activist Kevin Zeese calls for demonstrations against the persecution of Julian Assange

      Julian Assange through his work as editor of WikiLeaks has made major strides toward democratizing the media by creating a vehicle for whistleblowers to share the truth and correct the misinformation of the mass corporate media. Assange and WikiLeaks have given people a precious tool—access to the undeniable truth about what governments and big business are doing. This is a tool we can all use to educate each other about what is really going on around us.

      Assange is being persecuted because a democratized media threatens the monopoly over media control of the elites. A democratized media makes it more difficult for them to misinform, mislead and propagandize.

    • WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange gets embassy visit from Australian officials
    • WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange gets embassy visit from Australian officials
    • WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange gets embassy visit from Australian officials

      WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has been visited by officials from the Australian High Commission.

      Two officials went to the Ecuadorian Embassy in London where Mr Assange has been living for almost six years.

      His internet and phone connections were cut off by the Ecuadorian government six weeks ago and he was denied visitors.

    • Ask Trump to Pardon Assange?

      Pam says it would be “the smartest move” — not sure if she meant her visiting Trump, or Trump pardoning Assange.

    • How did hacker Adrian Lamo die? Medical examiner couldn’t figure it out

      In addition, according to the report, Lamo was found with “multiple drugs” in his system, including “esoteric drugs such as flubromazepam… It should also be noted that the esoteric nature of some of these drugs suggests the possibility that other rare drugs not tested for may have been used/abused.”

    • Opinion: Is The Zeitgeist Finally Shifting In Favor Of Julian Assange?

      Although the phrase Zeitgeist refers to the spirit of an age, it seems appropriate to use it to describe the shift in consciousness that can take place in a moment.

      As the sixth anniversary of Julian Assange’s asylum in the Ecuadorian Embassy approaches, public awareness is rapidly shifting in Assange’s favor. The ongoing isolation of Julian Assange by the Ecuadorian government appears to have bolstered sympathy for the Wikileaks Editor-In-Chief worldwide, instead of relegating him to the detritus of a fast-moving news cycle.

      Disobedient Media recently reported on last week’s Unity4J online vigil, which ran over 24 hours in an effort to raise awareness and to bring an end to Julian Assange’s isolation. As this writer noted during the vigil itself, attending and viewing such events are far from the only way to make a tangible difference in support of Assange.

      Readers and viewers must understand that efforts to help do not end at the period finishing the last sentence of this article, or the last guest at a vigil. Rather, readers and viewers must take up their own actions, because it is truly up to the public to fight for Assange, when a unified but unelected power structure is set on destroying him and the work of the organization he leads.

      As Ciaron O’Reilly puts it: “He is fighting for us in there, so we have to fight for him out here.” And that fight does not necessarily have to take the form of physical or online vigils, writing, or speaking. There are a multitude of equally powerful actions that supporters can take to act for Julian Assange’s very real benefit.

      Despite recent escalations in public demonstrations of support for Julian Assange and the revelation that many of WikiLeaks’ Twitter detractors may largely come from Twitter botnets, the question for some remains: “How can I help Julian Assange and Wikileaks at this critical time?”

    • The Eerie Silence Surrounding the Assange Case

      In a recent communication between Randy Credico, an Assange supporter, comic and radio producer, and Adam Schiff, the ranking member on the House Judiciary Committee, Assange’s fear of arrest and extradition to the US was confirmed by the leader of the Russia-gate frenzy.

      Credico received the following response from Schiff after meeting the the Congressman’s staff, in which Credico was trying to connect Assange with Schiff: “Our committee would be willing to interview Assange when he is in U.S. Custody and not before.”

      Dennis Bernstein spoke with John Pilger, a close friend and supporter of Assange on May 29. The interview began with the statement Bernstein delivered for Pilger at the Left Forum last weekend in New York on a panel devoted to Assange entitled, “Russia-gate and WikiLeaks”.

    • Ecuador Bows Before US interests, Continues Suppression of Julian Assange’s Internet Rights

      Access to internet, which was his only connection to the outside world amid what is almost solitary confinement, was suspended by the Ecuadorian government on March 28, ostensibly because Assange criticized the arrest of a Catalan separatist politician. This, according to the government, violated the agreement he had with it of not “intervening in internal politics of third-party countries”.

      Contesting the legality of this action, International Human Rights lawyer and a member Assange’s legal team, Renata Avila, told Newsclick, “Assange is now an Ecuadorian citizen. Ecuador has the duty to protect him and to apply the Ecuadorian constitution to him. That is the current status. Only a judicial order from Ecuador could legally limit his speech, not a Presidential order or a Ministerial order.”

    • Free speech is dead: WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange deserved Nobel Peace Prize, not the loss of liberty

      Western countries speak of the need for democracy and free speech around the world while restricting citizens’ access to information and silencing the messengers.

      Nowadays the media is a form of education for many, especially when it comes to understanding politics. Therefore, people believe what they see and hear even if it’s only half the truth. I have always stated that the media is the fourth branch of government because it moves public opinion and every day we see more proof of that. US society, as well as British society, has made choices about which kinds of speech to permit and which to forbid in an attempt to silence discussion on specific topics.

      In 2010 Hillary Clinton cited President Obama during her speech stating that “the more freely information flows, the stronger societies become”. She then went on to say that “information networks are helping people discover new facts and making governments more accountable.”

    • Julian Assange, WikiLeaks publisher, receives rare embassy visit from Australian officials

      Julian Assange met with diplomats from his native Australia on Thursday as the WikiLeaks publisher approaches his sixth year in self-exile at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London.

      Mr. Assange was visited at the embassy by two officials from Australia’s High Commission, the nation’s diplomatic mission in the U.K., marking what is believed to be the first time Australian officials have met with the WikiLeaks chief since he sought asylum there in June 2012, the U.K.’s Press Association first reported Thursday.

      Jennifer Robinson, a member of Mr. Assange’s legal team, confirmed the meeting to The Washington Times.

      “Julian Assange is in a very serious situation,” Ms. Robinson said in a statement. “He remains in the embassy because of the risk of extradition to the U.S. That risk is undeniable after numerous statements by Trump administration officials including the director of the CIA and the U.S. attorney-general.”

    • Could Julian Assange be coming home? Australian government officials are spotted making a mysterious visit to Wikileaks boss inside the Ecuadorian embassy in London for the first time in his six-year exile

      Wikileaks founder Julian Assange has been paid a mysterious visit by officials from the Australian government in a sign that the six year stalemate may come to an end.

      Two officials from Australia’s High Commission went to the Ecuadorian embassy where Mr Assange is living.

      It is the first time Australian consular officials have visited Assange at the embassy.

    • KPFA: Julian Assange Case Update
    • Australian officials visit Julian Assange as campaign to free him expands

      On Thursday, two Australian consular officials met with WikiLeaks’ editor and Australian citizen Julian Assange in the Ecuadorian embassy in London, where he sought political asylum on June 19, 2012. The officials were accompanied by Assange’s lawyer Jennifer Robinson.

      The visit is the first made by Australian government representatives to the courageous journalist in the six years since he was effectively imprisoned inside the embassy, faced with the threat of extradition to the United States to face trial on espionage and other charges.

      Assange’s health has seriously deteriorated over the past six years. Throughout this time, he has been living in conditions that a United Nations working group condemned in December 2015 as “arbitrary detention,” a “deprivation of liberty” and a violation of his human rights.

    • Australian “foreign interference” bills seek to protect “US secrets”

      In a radio interview yesterday, Andrew Hastie, who chairs the Australian Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security, pointed to the real driving forces behind a new bipartisan push for the rapid passage of proposed “foreign interference” laws.

      Hastie, a member of the Liberal-National Coalition government and former SAS officer, said Australia’s role in the US-led Five Eyes intelligence alliance made the country a “soft underbelly” for authoritarian regimes “seeking to get secrets from the United States.”

      The Five Eyes network links Australia’s spy and electronic surveillance agencies to the US National Security Agency and its counterparts in Britain, Canada and New Zealand.

    • WikiLeaks, which published leaked classified information, just called out a reporter at the center of a DOJ investigation into leaks of classified information

      WikiLeaks, an organization that first gained attention for publishing leaked classified information, just sniped at a reporter who is now at the center of a federal investigation into leaks of classified information.

      The New York Times reported late Thursday that prosecutors had obtained years worth of email and phone data belonging to the reporter, Ali Watkins, as part of the Justice Department inquiry. Watkins works for The Times.
      She was also previously in a three-year romantic relationship with James Wolfe, the former security director of the Senate Intelligence Committee. Wolfe, who worked as the panel’s security director for three decades, was arrested Thursday night on charges of lying to the FBI as part of the leak investigation.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature
    • We know you hate the Internet of Things, but it’s saving megafauna from poachers

      For much of this decade, organizations seeking to protect wildlife have attempted to use emerging technology as a conservation tool, allowing small numbers of people to monitor and manage data from animals over a wide area. Nowhere is that effort more focused—and more desperate—than in the regions of Africa where illegal animal trade is threatening to wipe out endangered animals such as rhinos, elephants, pangolins, and lions. Here, several organizations are applying Internet of Things (IoT) technology to protect animals, providing rangers with data that helps them intercept poachers before they can get to their quarry.

      Many conservation efforts elsewhere use IoT to try to track the location of animals, such as Vodafone’s IoT tagging of Scottish harbor seals and tracking of endangered dugongs in Philippines. But in Africa, the task of protecting rhinos is slightly different—it’s about tracking people, specifically the poachers who hunt down the rhinos for their tusks.

      Rhinos, of course, aren’t unique in needing such intervention. Based on data from the Great Elephant Census (GEC), a continent-wide survey conducted by Microsoft cofounder Paul Allen’s Vulcan Inc., Africa’s savanna elephant population declined by 30 percent between 2007 and 2014 for instance. That’s a loss of 144,000 elephants. Current data shows the rate of decline of the elephant population is now eight percent per year, and ivory poachers are the main reason for that decline.

    • Scientists fight to save Great Barrier Reef

      It’s World Oceans Day, and Australia’s Great Barrier Reef – one of the world’s seven natural wonders – is dying fast.

      Catastrophic mass bleaching caused by climate change in the past few years has decimated the coral. Now scientists are looking for ways to save what’s left of the reef.

      But after all the damage, can it be saved?

      “This is the beginning of a planetary catastrophe,” said Charlie Veron, a marine biologist.

      Vernon is the world’s leading authority on the Great Barrier Reef, where living coral – some of it centuries old – provides shelter and food for countless species of marine life.

    • EPA Staff Says Trump Administration Changing Agency Mission to Protect Industry

      The Environmental Protection Agency made news recently for excluding reporters from a “summit” meeting on chemical contamination in drinking water. Episodes like this are symptoms of a larger problem: an ongoing, broad-scale takeover of the agency by industries it regulates.

      We are social scientists with interests in environmental health, environmental justice and inequality and democracy. We recently published a study, conducted under the auspices of the Environmental Data and Governance Initiative and based on interviews with 45 current and retired EPA employees, which concludes that EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt and the Trump administration have steered the agency to the verge of what scholars call “regulatory capture.”

      By this we mean that they are aggressively reorganizing the EPA to promote interests of regulated industries, at the expense of its official mission to “protect human health and the environment.”

    • India Increases Its Massive 2022 Renewable Energy Target By 28%

      For the last several years, CleanTechnica has covered renewable energy development in India quite closely. Several years ago, India set what seemed like a lofty target of 175 gigawatts of wind and solar energy by March 2022. Few believed that was a practical target, but then India plowed forward and happily impressed the world. This week that goal was increased to 227 gigawatts!

      Currently, India has added a little more than 70 gigawatts of that goal. Assessing the progress to date on a linear scale, the trend would seem to indicate the country is behind. However, renewable energy growth is not linear.

  • Finance
    • Ant Financial Raises $14 Billion as Funding Round Closes

      The funding makes Ant the world’s largest fintech firm and equips it with enormous resources for expansion. The affiliate of Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. is already China’s biggest online payments service and controls the world’s largest money market fund as it moves deeper into areas from consumer lending to credit scoring. Ant Financial posted a 65 percent jump in pretax profit, rising to 9.18 billion yuan in fiscal 2018 ended in March.

    • Crypto’s 32-Year-Old Billionaire Mining King Considers an IPO

      Both companies design custom chips known as application-specific integrated circuits, or ASICs. These are particularly good for the brute-force number crunching required by cryptocurrency miners, who verify virtual currency transactions and earn crypto-denominated rewards by solving complex math problems. ASICs are also useful for the heavy workloads associated with some forms of AI, such as machine learning.

    • White House’s Nafta Approach Frustrates Businesses, Panicked Emails Show

      The email and other documents were obtained through the Freedom of Information Act by American Oversight, a nonprofit set up to investigate the Trump administration. The documents, which include emails to the United States trade representative, cover the period from February 2017, when many of the agency’s top staff members had yet to be appointed, through November, when the United States had shared its primary negotiating goals for Nafta with Canada and Mexico.

    • Bernie Sanders Is to Deliver a Commonsense Plan to Save the Postal Service

      Earlier this year, President Donald Trump seethed on Twitter that the United States Postal Service had become Amazon’s “Delivery Boy.” “P.O. leaders don’t have a clue (or do they?)!” he fumed, vowing that “THEY LOSE A FORTUNE, and this will be changed.”

      After reportedly dwelling on the issue for weeks, Trump ordered the creation of a task force to review the agency’s finances, declaring that “the USPS is on an unsustainable financial path and must be restructured.” The task force will be led by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney, two of the Trump administration’s biggest proponents of private industry.

    • Prison labor: a boon to greater patenting?

      It is recognized that these data are historical rather than current, for a number of reasons connected with the research requirements of the study. Still, keep in mind that convict labor continues to be a wide-spread phenomenon, with data for 2006 showing that the prisoner labor system in the United States employed nearly 4.4 million convicts, 0.6 million of whom worked in the manufacturing sector, constituting 4.2% of total manufacturing employment in the U.S. Who were the beneficiaries of such employment? Poyker mentions Wal-Mart, AT&T, Victoria’s Secret and Whole Foods Market (now part of Amazon) as companies employing convict labor, paying typically at between $0 to $4.90 per hour to the prisoners in state prisons.

      Given the lower rates of compensation paid to the prisoners, it is readily seen that such prison labor can undercut the labor costs for similarly placed companies not making use of such labor. Accordingly, findings related to the depressive effect that prison labor can have on (especially local) employment patterns is hardly surprising. One can roughly view it as a labor shock, in the same way that the “China price”, i.e., the cost of manufacturing in China, constituted a labor shock for various U.S. industries over the past two decades. But what does this have to do with rates of patenting and an increase in innovation activities?

      Poyker explains as follows. First, a distinction is made between lower-end and higher-end products. The labor shock from prisoner labor was more felt in lower-end, as opposed to higher products, given the nature of the work being performed by the prisoners. Regarding such lower-end industries, while some companies moved to higher-end products, others remained with the lower-end products, but at the same time they sought to invest in machinery that would make them less labor-intensive, thereby enabling them to better complete on the basis of price and perhaps also on quality. As summarized by Poyker, “convict labor boosted technology adoption by forcing firms to invent or adopt new technologies that could make them more competitive”

    • EC to whack Google with ‘significant’ fine for Android dominance abuse

      It’s not yet clear how mega the EC’s fine will be, but the FT notes that the watchdog can impose a penalty of up to $11bn (around £8.2bn), which is 10 per cent of Alphabet’s global turnover.

    • EU may hit Google with Android anti-trust fine in July: report

      The EU has also floated the idea of breaking up Google into a number of smaller units, with the EU competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager saying the political bloc harbours “grave suspicions” about the firm’s dominance of the search market.

    • Google faces EU antitrust fine over Android case in July: sources

      The EU competition enforcer will also tell Google to stop its anti-competitive practices such as licensing deals which prevent smartphone makers from promoting alternatives to apps such as Google Search and Maps.

    • Legatum breached charity regulations with Brexit work, Charity Commission finds

      Controversial think tank influential amongst pro-Brexit ministers did not provide “balanced, neutral evidence and analysis” and was “not consistent” with the charity’s objectives.

    • How to win the Brexit Civil War. An open letter to my fellow Remainers
    • Brexit, Corbyn and us: what disappointment can teach us about politics and ourselves

      Brexit is a glorious example of the folly of fantasy. It was entirely conducted along the lines of a fantasy Britain. A fantasy Britain that never existed. I don’t know when this honeymoon period people talk about in Britain that we’re trying to get back to was; there’s certainly a degree of fantasy on the side of the Brexiters. Where disappointment comes in is that if we don’t talk about our fantasies and try to uncover what they are…they’re a cover story for something. Fantasy is a cover story. If we simply try and fulfil our fantasies we will always be disappointed. We simply will.

      It’s not possible to deliver the Brexit dream—because it is a fantasy. It was set up for disappointment as soon as it was articulated. And you know, the conversation that I believe should have happened is: What is this fantasy of a ‘white Britain’ or an ‘everybody-at-work Britain’ telling us about how Britain is constructed today? Do we actually have to have a conversation about immigration? Do we have to realise that there are swathes of people who are living in poverty and don’t have jobs? They are the conversations that drove the fantasy and yet it’s rare you see them being taken out and really articulated in a way that’s meaningful for people.

      The other thing about politics and disappointment is that we’re always going to be perpetually disappointed in politicians as we hold them to a higher standard. I think this is the joy of Donald Trump, who is doing exactly what he said he would do, which most politicians don’t when they get elected. We have this fantasy idea of how politicians should behave, unlike how normal human beings behave. The real work goes on behind the scenes and we don’t see it. If politicians were to be honest about the work, they might not get re-elected. We want the fantasy of the ideal leader, the ideal politician.

    • Brexit, Parliament and the British Constitution: why a People’s Vote is the only legitimate constitutional means of resolving Brexit

      The first clause of Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty states:

      “Any Member State may decide to withdraw from the Union in accordance with its own constitutional requirements.”

      But as has become apparent, in the case of the UK, nobody really knows what those requirements actually are and a significant amount of energy has been consumed over the last two years in disputes over what the respective roles, responsibilities and powers of Parliament and the executive are, what the precise status of the referendum is and who, if anyone, is responsible for interpreting it. The Miller case exposed confusion and uncertainty even over who had the power to begin the process. There is no clear constitutional guidance, either, on how or by whom it should be executed, scrutinised or concluded and, crucially, how and by whom the outcomes should be approved or legitimised.

      This messiness reflects the UK’s famously uncodified constitution, which means its basic rules are not systematically laid out in a single, document which governs the relationships of key elements of the political system. This means that the UK constitution is very flexible which has served it well in some respects, not least in adapting to European Union membership. But it means, above all, that the constitution is political. Above all, sovereignty and power in the British constitution has not been a matter for the courts, as in many codified systems, but has rather been established and maintained by political struggle, which is why the resolution of the question of who should trigger Article 50 by the courts is somewhat problematic in the UK context.

      A key principle of the British constitution is the notion of ‘parliamentary sovereignty’ – that Parliament has the sole right to make or unmake law in its territory. For many Eurosceptics, it is this that made the British system incompatible with EU membership, which (as confirmed by the Factortame Case in 1991) instituted a higher body of law over that of statute. But this was merely a qualification of Parliamentary sovereignty, and one which Parliament imposed upon itself and (as Brexit perhaps proves) can also remove.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics
    • Activists in Switzerland Explain Why They Protested Betsy DeVos’s Visit

      A group of protesters found out where DeVos would be and waited for her to exit the building. But as time went on, and there was no sign of DeVos, they started heading home. Not long after that, four large black vehicles drove up to the back of the building; Page said it seemed like the cars were trying to get as close to the exit as possible, foiling the proteseors’ attempt to get a clear photo of DeVos with the signs in the shot.

    • Trump’s Saving Grace

      What a nauseating spectacle — the language police at CNN and MSNBC castigating Samantha Bee for calling Ivanka Trump a “feckless cunt!”

      Their producers should have told them that if truth isn’t a defense, it ought to be, and that prissiness über alles is for self-righteous prigs.

      She said “feckless,” not, as was sometimes reported, “fucking.” Part of the confusion may be that on those liberal (actually centrist) networks, “the f-word,” like “the c-word,” is routinely spelled out when mentioned at all.

      I wonder whether this is because the network bosses are worried that c-h-i-l-d-r-e-n might be watching.

    • Rotten to the Heart: Authoritarian Chickens Roosting at Home

      Yes, He’s Awful

      Much of what liberals say about Donald Trump and the chilling political moment the Trump presidency represents is true enough.

      Trump really is the arch-authoritarian malignant narcissist that liberals say he is. Trump thinks he deserves to rule the nation like an absolute monarch or some ridiculous Banana Republic dictator. He believes he’s above all the law, consistent with Louis XIV’s dictum L’etat, C’est Moi (“the state is me”). The notion that Trump can pardon himself from any crime really is the height of imperial arrogance.

      Trump really does value nothing but the advancement of his own wealth and image. There is no person, no principle, no higher loyalty he is not willing to sacrifice on the altar of self.

      Trump really is the almost perfect embodiment of venal malevolence that liberals say he is. The idiotic military parade Trump has scheduled for the next Veterans Day is an exercise in proto-fascistic, Mussolini-like imperial-presidential self-adulation.

      This racist and sexist beast befouls the nation and world with his ghastly, eco-cidal presence. The sooner he draws his last undeserved breath, the better for all living things (or maybe not: Mike Pence could be worse).

    • The Three Biggest Threats to the Vote in 2018

      But voters might face several hurdles when they go to register or cast a ballot. The past decade has seen a number of laws that restrict the right to vote.

  • Censorship/Free Speech
    • The moral panic that almost destroyed the comic book business

      In the 1950s, the United States freaked out big time over comics books. There were Senate hearings and comic book burnings. In the end, careers were ruined, companies went out of business, and comics fell under a strict censorship regime for decades.

    • China’s online censorship makes its way to e-commerce as Pinduoduo cleans up

      China isn’t limited to just censoring content-generating platforms within the country. Pinduoduo, the social e-commerce upstart, launched a cleanup campaign to remove all the products that are related to violence or pornography, local media is reporting.

      The purge follows an investigation published by state-backed legal media, which reveals that lots of violent and pornographic products are on sale on the platform, such as lethal knives, pseudo base stations, erotic games, and sex dolls.

    • Russian Govt Approves Fines For Search Engines Linking to Banned VPNs

      Russia’s State Duma has adopted a bill that will see search engines fined for offering links to VPNs and other anonymizers that have been banned in the country. Fines will also be handed out to search engines that fail to connect to a resource offering up-to-date information on what domains should be rendered inaccessible.

    • Why do students want to be treated like children?

      Sadly, it seems many of today’s students no longer consider adulthood and autonomy to be worth striving for, and instead want universities to focus on better caring for them. In 2015, students from Goldsmiths University occupied Deptford Town Hall in south-east London. First on their list of demands was for the university to ‘recruit more counsellors’. They wanted the ‘standard six-session cap’ on counselling sessions to be removed and ‘a permanent additional CBT [cognitive behavioural therapy] therapist’. It is hardly surprising that students make such demands: the perception of 18- to 25-year-olds as vulnerable not-quite-adults, in need of colouring books to cope with exams and discount fares to cope with the cost of commuting, is promoted by schoolteachers, academics and politicians – it has come to be seen as common sense.

    • Viewpoint: Censorship by proxy

      Years ago, in the case of West Virginia v. Barnette, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that public schoolchildren cannot be legally compelled to salute the flag or recite the Pledge of Allegiance. As Justice Robert H. Jackson wrote, “If there is any fixed star in our constitutional constellation, it is that no official, high or petty, can prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion, or other matters of opinion, or force citizens to confess by word or act their faith therein. If there are any circumstances which permit an exception, they do not now occur to us.”

      Recently, the National Football League instituted a policy requiring players to either stand during the singing of the national anthem or remain in the locker room. The NFL’s authority to create this policy is based largely on the fact that, as a private entity, it is not subject to the Barnette precedent.

    • Jogging through Tiananmen Square: What happens when Facebook meets China’s censorship regime?

      This was remarkable on several levels. Facebook has been almost continuously inaccessible in China since 2009, as some of Zuckerberg’s followers were quick to point out — practically speaking, how did he post that update? Others remarked on the conspicuous cloud of smog hanging in the background.

      But several netizens seized on the particulars of this seemingly harmless act of jogging through Beijing. Tiananmen Square, they noted, is no ordinary public plaza. In the comment field beside the post, an argument broke out between users — much of it written in Chinese — about exactly what happened 29 years ago in Tiananmen Square on June 4, 1989.

      One user wrote that on that date, 29 years ago this week, 6,400 peacefully demonstrating students were shot and killed by police. Another retorted that only students who attacked police were shot at. Users offered vastly different estimates of how many students died that day.

    • Why licenses for buskers won’t work in Hong Kong: think ‘censorship’ cries

      Whether or not the Mong Kok pedestrian precinct should be closed has recently provoked heated discussion online, especially after the Yau Tsim Mong district council voted to open Sai Yeung Choi Street South up to traffic again (“Mong Kok street performers get the chop”, May 24).

      Amid the controversy, some believe that the Hong Kong government should regulate street performers by issuing licenses. Similar measures are taken by the Australian government. Local governments in Australia issue licenses to buskers and street performers. The permit of those street performers who receive noise complaints are liable to be revoked.

      In Brisbane, such licenses remain in effect for a period of three months. Auditions are held to ensure the quality of the performances. Hong Kong, however, has yet to decide on an official mechanism to manage street performers.

    • French fake news bill sparks censorship fears

      French MPs debated the government’s plan to fight fake news into the early hours of Friday morning as opposition MPs expressed fears that the measure could lead to online censorship.

      As the European Union works on a code of practice for social media companies, the French government has joined Britain and Italy in trying to limit the spread of fake news.

      France, like the US, has seen accusations of Russian meddling in its presidential election campaign last year.

    • Anti-“fake news” bill gives French state unchecked Internet censorship powers

      On Thursday, the National Assembly began debating French President Emmanuel Macron’s draconian bill empowering the state to censor the Internet during the three months prior to any national election. The bill marks a vast new attack on freedom of speech, amid a wave of threats to Internet freedom worldwide based on the pretext of fighting “fake news.”

      The bill would allow candidates and political parties to take articles and Internet statements to court, where judges could force Internet service providers to censor material by declaring that they believed it to be “fake news.” Due to the French president’s broad powers to name and control the promotion of top magistrates, the French judiciary is widely acknowledged to be dependent on the executive. The bill thus places enormous power over the Internet in the hands of the president.

      The bill defines “fake news” not as information that is false, but as “any allegation or implying of a fact without providing verifiable information that makes it plausible.”

    • French government is accused of trying to legalise censorship and creating a ‘thought police’ during stormy debate over ‘fake news’ bill

      French lawmakers have accused the government of attempting to legalise censorship during a stormy debate over a bill designed to fight so-called fake news during election campaigns.

      President Emmanuel Macron launched a crusade against misinformation after being targeted during his 2017 campaign by online rumours that he was gay and had a secret bank account in the Bahamas.

    • ‘Ridiculous & absurd political censorship’: Opposition critics slam Macron’s anti-fake news law

      Opposition and critics have lambasted President Macron’s anti-fake news draft law for violating free speech and targeting alternative media. France’s lower house of parliament began discussing the controversial legislation.

      The draft was proposed by Emmanuel Macron himself after he claimed he was the victim of a barrage of fake news stories during the 2017 presidential election, including allegations that he had a gay affair. Presented as a law aimed to battle “manipulation of information,” the draft is being debated in the National Assembly, the lower house of the French Parliament, on June 7-8.

      If passed, the bill would allow French judges to block the publication of any information deemed to be false ahead of elections. The legislation says that it mainly targets “those media controlled by foreign states,” as well as “digital platforms.”

      “This law is intended … to protect fundamental freedoms (freedom of expression, protection of the sources of journalists),” the statement reads. But critics fear it is a possible means to restrict free speech.

    • French MPs criticise ‘hasty and ineffective’ fake news law

      The French government was accused by right and leftwing opponents of trying to create a form of “thought police” and institute censorship, as parliament began debating Emmanuel Macron’s proposed law to ban fake news on the internet during election campaigns.

      The draft law — designed to stop what the government calls “manipulation of information” in the runup to elections — would allow political parties to complain about widely spread assertions deemed to be false or “implausible” and a French judge could immediately move to stop their publication.

      The centrist President Macron, who beat the far-right candidate, Marine Le Pen, in 2017, has personally backed the reform after he complained his presidential campaign was targeted by online fake news rumours, including that he was gay and that he had a secret bank account in the Bahamas. He has said a law was needed against the spread of fake news “in order to protect democracy”.

    • Australian playwright disappointed censors axed Beijing play

      Renowned Australian playwright David Williamson said Tuesday that he is disappointed Chinese censors have canceled a production of his play “The Removalists” for the official reason that it contains bad language and violence.

      The 76-year-old said some involved in the production suspect the true reason the classic Australian play was banned was its depiction of police abusing their authority — a sensitive issue in China.

      The play was axed during a period of intense diplomatic tensions between China and Australia over Australian policies including a proposed ban on foreign interference in domestic politics.

      Australian beef and wine producers complain that their exports have fallen victim to China’s approach of punishing businesses and individuals to send a message to a country’s government.

    • Russian Supreme Court Forces Reversal over Crypto Website Censorship

      The St. Petersburg City High Court reversed the decision of the district court to block crypto Website Bitcoininfo.ru in what hopes to be the beginning of positive steps towards crypto acceptance and adaptation.

      In the late morning of Monday earlier this week, The Supreme Court of St. Petersburg ordered the district court to reverse its decision to censor bitconinfo.ru 1 of upwards of 100 crypto media sites in Russia that have been censored without appeal since 2016. The reason…the court claimed “that cryptocurrencies do not have certain consumer protections or lend themselves to state control but instead promote the growth of the shadow economy.” Fortunately, the Supreme Court has ordered the lower court to reconsider its position, which is a massive step forward in helping remove the FUD surrounding cryptocurrencies.

    • After black magic, censorship and detention comes new dawn for Malaysian press

      Early one morning in February 2014, Malaysiakini journalists arrived at the Kuala Lumpur headquarters of the independent news site to find walls splashed with red paint and a suspicious box.

      Delivered anonymously in the dead of night, the box contained the photo of an opposition politician recently charged with sedition over a satirical video clip posted online; a bag of rice and needles; plus a live duck in a shocked condition.

    • China Fires, Probes Top Newspaper Chief Who ‘Opposed Censorship’

      The ruling Chinese Communist Party has expelled its party secretary at the Qinghai Daily News newspaper in the northwestern province of Qinghai for “disciplinary violations,” the party’s disciplinary arm announced on Wednesday.

      Zhang Wei, the former party secretary at the newspaper, was found after a recent internal investigation to have “violated political discipline” and lied to the provincial party committee, the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI) said in a statement.

      “He opposed censorship and illegally kept secret party work documents in his possession,” the CCDI said. “He also violated discipline in his personal life, carrying on a long-term, inappropriate relationship with another person while he was still married.”

      Zhang’s case has now been transferred to police for criminal investigation, after party investigators found evidence of “large-scale bribe-taking,” the statement said.

    • Woolies accused of censorship over mass nude photo

      A world-renowned photographer has accused Woolworths of censorship after they banned him from staging a mass nude photo shoot at its Prahran car park.

    • Censorship in the Age of Large Cloud Providers

      Internet censors have a new strategy in their bid to block applications and websites: pressuring the large cloud providers that host them. These providers have concerns that are much broader than the targets of censorship efforts, so they have the choice of either standing up to the censors or capitulating in order to maximize their business. Today’s internet largely reflects the dominance of a handful of companies behind the cloud services, search engines and mobile platforms that underpin the technology landscape. This new centralization radically tips the balance between those who want to censor parts of the internet and those trying to evade censorship. When the profitable answer is for a software giant to acquiesce to censors’ demands, how long can internet freedom last?

      The recent battle between the Russian government and the Telegram messaging app illustrates one way this might play out. Russia has been trying to block Telegram since April, when a Moscow court banned it after the company refused to give Russian authorities access to user messages. Telegram, which is widely used in Russia, works on both iPhone and Android, and there are Windows and Mac desktop versions available. The app offers optional end-to-end encryption, meaning that all messages are encrypted on the sender’s phone and decrypted on the receiver’s phone; no part of the network can eavesdrop on the messages.

    • Censorship and Propaganda Rules America

      Censorship by the government with their corporate partners isn’t the only problem the past several years. People don’t trust the media and for a good reason. The trust in media dropped below 20% years ago, and I expect it only to get worse as will our confidence in government – local, state and federal.

      Both our political system and media/entertainment complex are coopted and ran behind the curtains and doors by the American Aristocracy. Call it an oligarchy or plutocracy, but don’t call it a democracy or representative republic because that should insult everyone’s intelligence.

      [...]

      In Bloomberg, you get a chart showing near full employment with title lines reading, “The Economy is Booming.”

      [...]

      The distortion creates the disconnect created by the purveyors of propaganda…they tell us our country is doing fantastic and we’re an economic powerhouse so keep buying, buying, buying. However, the once thriving working-class don’t have those choices to make. It’s more like, “Which utility bill can we skip this month?”

    • Censorship schools awareness drive in Kimbe

      The Censorship office is on a nationwide drive to instill a positive mindset into students on the use of internet and social media.

      A team is now in Kimbe conducting their awareness in primary and secondary schools based on the theme censorship starts at home.

      Acting manager for awareness and publicity and team leader Delly Moropa said the Censorship office is advocating for a positive mindset in how the young people use all medium of communication including the main stream media and internet and the social media.

      Ms Moropa said the internet and social media is here to stay because we are living in a changing society and Censorship is advocating for their positive use.

      She said they are targeting students so as they grow up they train themselves to have a positive mindset.

    • In an Era of Censorship on College Campuses, One State Fights Back

      In a time when free speech advocates are sounding the alarm that a growing movement to silence opinions and speakers on colleges and universities is hindering First Amendment rights, one state recently took action to stop that trend.

      Louisiana lawmakers passed SB364, a bill which protects freedom of speech on public college campuses, and Gov. John Bel Edwards signed it into law earlier this month.

    • Congressman Blackburn visits Natchez Trace Parkway, gives insight on censorship

      Congressman Marsha Blackburn visited the Natchez Trace Parkway on Saturday in celebration of the 50th anniversary of the National Trails Act of 1968, which paved the way for national trails all over the country. Greeting hikers and children at the national park, Blackburn also answered some questions pertaining to the issue of political censorship on social media.

      Representing Tennessee’s 7th Congressional District on the House of Representatives, Blackburn announced her intentions to run for the Senate last year, following Republican Senator Bob Corker’s announcement that he would not seek re-election.

    • Mic drop: Petaluma valedictorian claims censorship after grad speech cut short

      It was the moment Lulabel Seitz spent four years working to achieve. The Petaluma High School senior became the first in her family to graduate Saturday, and as valedictorian she used her commencement speech as a platform to underscore the value of perseverance to fellow seniors — that is, until her mic was disconnected.

      The microphone cut off four minutes into her speech after she deviated from the script she previously submitted.

      Clad in a white graduation gown with a colorful lei draped around her neck, she stepped around the podium to finish her speech as some students cheered and chanted “let her speak.”

    • South Koreans explain how they get around government porn censorship

      When a person in South Korea tries to visit a porn site, they discover the government’s National Police Agency Cyber Bureau has blocked it.

      In this Asian Boss video of street interviews, people explain how they route around this censorship, using P2P networks, social media, and redirecting IP addresses. As one woman says, “according to our male friends, they search for porn using some code. They all have their ways of downloading it.”

    • Censorship And Abductions
    • Military Censorship and Threats to Journalists Rise in Pakistan
    • Pakistani activist abduction sparks fear of crackdown on dissent
    • Journalist Gul Bukhari home after hours-long ‘abduction’ in Lahore
    • Tired of Twitter censorship? Gab claims to offer an alternative
    • China is putting its weight behind North Korea by censoring insults of Kim Jong Un
    • Repressive Singapore is the perfect place for Trump and Kim to compare human rights records
    • Protection or Censorship? Swiss Online Gambling Net Neutrality Referendum to Decide Sunday
    • Swiss to place bets on gambling law in high stakes referendum
    • Money laundering, censorship fears in Swiss gambling vote
    • Money-Laundering, Censorship Fears Fanned in Swiss Gambling Vote
    • YouTube Unexpectedly Shuts Down Sporting Goods Store’s Channel
    • Youtube Censorship Nazi’s Terminate Brownells’ Video Account
    • China is so adamant about crushing dissent and promoting moral values that couches are now banned from videos

      China is clamping down on the portrayal of all kinds of “obscene” behaviors online, according to a report from The Globe and Mail.

      A number of sources told The Globe and Mail that a directive, titled “Management requirements for live service information and content,” is being used to guide censorship decisions at some of China’s most-popular video-streaming sites.

      The behaviors in videos being censored include tattoos, gambling, drinking, smoking, “flirtatious” dancing, being shirtless. Scenes that use “a bed or sofa as a prop or background” are also on the no-no list.

      Despite President Xi Jingping’s renewed focus on the environment, discussing issues caused by smog or soil pollution is banned. So, too, is attacking political leaders and government policies. There’s even an explicit prohibition on using the names or photographs of political leaders.

    • Censorship advocacy group ramps up pressure on Netflix

      The Parents Television Council, a censorship advocacy group that typically puts pressure on broadcasters for showing explicit or violent content that is inappropriate for children, is turning up the heat on Netflix.

      The organization said on Thursday it is launching an online petition to persuade the streaming giant to drop “13 Reasons Why,” the controversial teen drama centered on a girl who takes her own life by slitting her wrists.

      Netflix just renewed the show for a third season.

  • Privacy/Surveillance
    • What Big Tech Has Acquired From In-Q-Tel, The CIA’s VC Arm

      The government helped shape the Internet, so it should come as no surprise that it is also game to invest in the companies working to bring it to new heights. In-Q-Tel, the venture arm of the CIA, has invested in 172 known startups (more than 20 of which Crunchbase News has reached out to for comment), according to Crunchbase.

      But like with any other VC firm, exits matter. And a handful of In-Q-Tel-backed startups have found themselves in the shopping carts of the most well-known tech companies in the world.

    • I regret nothing, says Edward Snowden, five years after fleeing the US for Russia [Ed: "fleeing the US for Russia" is not true. He fled to HK, then South America, US got him stranded in Russia by revoking passport.]
    • Snowden/NSA – 5 Years Later

      It’s been 5 years since Edward Snowden leaked confidential documents to The Guardian and Washington Post before going on the run and eventually entering Russian territory. Ken Spinner, VP at Varonis commented below.

      [...]

      Organizations have gotten sloppy when it comes to protecting their secrets. All it takes is one motivated individual to take whatever they can get their hands on. In many cases that can mean thousands, or even hundreds of thousands, of sensitive documents when files are unprotected and open to every single person in the organization. It’s a smash-and-grab without the smash.

      Another interesting point is that people remember the likes of big names like Snowden, Julian Assange, and others. The problem is bigger than any one insider or leaker. The last five years have resulted in massive numbers of breaches, yet attribution seems to be becoming an afterthought. Anyone know the names Vladimir Drinkman or Dmitriy Smilianets? Both were sentenced to prison for crimes targeting credit card processors, banks, retailers, and other corporate victims.”

    • How the Edward Snowden leaks damaged security services

      Edward Snowden was accused of “very damaging” leaks after handing tens of thousands of top secret documents to journalists in 2013.

      The very first story based on those documents was published five years ago. It revealed a secret court order allowing the US National Security Agency (NSA) to collect the data of more than 120 million phone calls between ordinary Americans.

      More surveillance revelations based on top secret documents were published in the days and weeks which followed, all sourced through material which Mr Snowden had taken from the NSA while working as a contractor.

    • How the Edward Snowden leaks revealed unlawful spying

      We thought we were living in the free world, until Edward Snowden began to reveal top secret documents about mass surveillance in 2013.

      The first story based on those documents was published five years ago, showing how the US National Security Agency (NSA) amassed the data of 120 million phone calls between ordinary Americans.

      Subsequent reportage, all based on material which Mr Snowden had taken from the NSA while working as a contractor, revealed a sprawling surveillance infrastructure – with the UK’s signals intelligence agency, GCHQ, among its foremost players.

    • How the Snowden leaks revealed unlawful spying

      Five years on, Sky News is looking at how significant those documents were in proving that the government was spying on British citizens as well as foreigners.

    • When the NSA Hired Mad Men
    • Check Out These Amazing NSA Posters From The 1950s And 60s
    • Cold War-era office posters from NSA’s archives shows a hundred ways to say “shhh”
    • Five years on, what has changed since the Edward Snowden scandal?

      This month marks five years since the revelation that the NSA and other security agencies were engaging in mass surveillance rocked the world. Currently living in exile in Russia, Edward Snowden is now a household name after igniting the debate on the balance between national security and data privacy. However, in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, how much has changed in those five years?

      In 2013, National Security Agency (NSA) contractor Edward Snowden leaked classified NSA data revealing that the agency, along with others including British intelligence and security organisation GCHQ, was conducting numerous global surveillance programmes.

    • Chinese hackers [sic] reportedly stole data related to secret projects from a US Navy contractor

      Hackers [sic] stole 614 gigabytes of data from the contractor, relating to a project called Sea Dragon, a secret project that the Defense Department explained as a new “disruptive offensive capability” being integrated onto “an existing weapons system with an existing Navy platform.” The Post describes the project as a “supersonic anti-ship missile” to be used aboard submarines. The project began in 2012, and was to begin testing in September 2018. The Post notes that in addition to information about Sea Dragon, hackers [sic] stole “signals and sensor data, submarine radio room information relating to cryptographic systems, and the Navy submarine development unit’s electronic warfare library.”

    • The 12 best posters from the very odd NSA archive [Ed: Distraction from 5-year anniversary of Snowden leaks]

      Long before it was at the centre of a huge spying scandal, the US National Security Agency had the communist threat to deal with – and wanted to make sure its staff did not spill secrets.

    • Vintage NSA posters remix pop culture as security warnings
    • Turning the NSA’s vintage internal security posters into t-shirts

      Techdirt is in the throes of a two-part revelation: 1. the US government’s works are public domain and can be freely commercialized, and; 2. many of the weird things that spy agencies make can be turned into ironic, cool, and sometimes fun and/or beautiful objects of commerce.

      Since the Snowden revelations, there has been an aggressive campaign to pry loose the cultural artifacts of America’s vast, secretive, paranoid spy agencies (euphemistically called the “intelligence community” by progressives who forgive these COINTELPRO-happy, unaccountable authoritarians so long as they’re wrongfooting Donald Trump). And wherever a wonderful, weird artifact emerges from leaks of Freedom of Information Act requests, Techdirt is there to productize it.

    • Five years on, Snowden inspired tech giants to change, even if governments wouldn’t

      Five years ago this week, Edward Snowden handed over a vast cache of close to ten thousand highly classified documents to reporters, revealing the scope and scale of the US government’s mass surveillance effort — and of its many global intelligence-gathering partners.

      First, the world learned that the National Security Agency (NSA) had been collecting the daily phone records of millions of Americans. Then, Silicon Valley was accused of willful participation in the PRISM data collection program. And the disclosures kept coming.

    • Facebook let select companies have “special access” to user data, per report

      Facebook maintained secret deals with a handful of companies, allowing them to gain “special access to user records,” long after it cut off most developers’ access to such user data back in 2015, according to a new Friday report by the Wall Street Journal, citing court documents it did not publish and other unnamed sources.

    • Apple patent reveals plans for Bluetooth blood pressure monitor

      The device, described in the patent as “a low-profile blood pressure measurement system”, and its drawings could be Apple’s first proper health product. This – unlike the Apple Watch and its heart rate monitor – would require regulatory approval from the FDA before going on sale.

    • VPNhub Premium review: Pornhub’s new VPN service needs to work out the kinks
    • Lawmakers renew push to preempt state encryption laws

      A bipartisan group of lawmakers is renewing a push for legislation to block states from mandating that technology companies build “backdoors” into devices they produce in order to allow law enforcement access to them.

    • Facebook Granted Some Companies Special Access To Users’ Data, Including Phone Number

      This time the social networking giant has been accused of granting special access to user’s data to some selected companies. According to a report by The Wall Street Journal, Facebook came into agreement with certain companies including Royal Bank of Canada and Nissan Motors under a group of similar agreements which is known by the name of “Whitelists.” Under whitelists, Facebook shared information including their mobile number and information about their friends.

    • Facebook Gave Some Companies Special Access to Additional Data About Users’ Friends

      Facebook Inc. struck customized data-sharing deals that gave select companies special access to user records well after the point in 2015 that the social network has said it walled off that information, according to court documents, company officials and people familiar with the matter.

  • Civil Rights/Policing
    • Flyers’ rights hit turbulence

      If airlines (along with their allies in Congress and the Transportation Department) get their way, you would no longer see the total cost of your tickets upfront, and bait-and-switch advertising could make a comeback. Your ability to comparison shop at online travel sites might be curtailed. And you would lose some of the meager consumer protections you have, including 24 hours to cancel or change a reservation for free.

      As a massive airline measure moves through Congress, and the Trump administration seeks to repeal regulations across government, airlines have their best chance in years to kill or water down key consumer protections.

    • China’s pervasive “social credit” scheme is still in development, but already profoundly shaping public behavior

      Since its first stirrings in 2015, the Chinese social credit schemes have sprouted a confusing and frightening garden of strange growths, from spraying and shaming jaywalkers to blacklisting millions from flying or using high-speed rail, including journalists and other critics of the Chinese state.

    • The odd reality of life under China’s all-seeing credit score system

      China’s social credit system was launched in 2014 and is supposed to be nationwide by 2020. As well as tracking and rating individuals, it also encompasses businesses and government officials. When it is complete, every Chinese citizen will have a searchable file of amalgamated data from public and private sources tracking their social credit. Currently, the system is still under development and authorities are trying to centralise local databases.

    • From the Ghettoes, Reservations and Backwoods of America

      Standing here at the base of the Grecian columns on the south side of the Lincoln Memorial there will be a very striking view of the funeral procession of Senator Robert Kennedy.

      The first sight of the procession will be through the trees as it turns off Constitution Avenue onto Henry Bacon Drive…a short tree lined street. It will then be in full view as it turns into the circle around the Lincoln Memorial. It will pass directly below me between the monuments honouring two great Americans, Washington and Lincoln.

    • Senators Corker and Kaine Want to Give President Trump the Authority to Wage Worldwide War

      Sens. Corker and Kaine’s new AUMF would cede Congress’ constitutional duty to declare war to the executive branch.

      [...]

      The Corker-Kaine AUMF would authorize force, without operational limitations, against eight groups in six countries. The president could then add to both lists, as long as the president reports the expansion to Congress. To be clear — the president would have unilateral authority to add additional countries — including the United States itself — to the list of countries where Congress is authorizing war. And the president would have unilateral authority to add additional enemies, including groups in the United States itself and even individual Americans, under its new authority for the president to designate “persons” as enemies.

      Their proposal also contains a sleeper provision with the innocuous title, “Sec. 10 Conforming Amendment,” that would create a new legal basis for the military to capture and imprison individuals in indefinite detention without charge or trial. This greatly expands the scope of the infamous indefinite detention provision in the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act. Like the NDAA, the Corker-Kaine AUMF has no statutory prohibition against locking up American citizens or anyone picked up in the United States itself. While we continue to believe it would still be unlawful for a president to try indefinite detention of an American citizen in the United States (again), there is no reason for Congress to risk it.

    • Once Again, New York State Considers a Terrible Right of Publicity Law

      In what now appears to be an annual ritual, a bad right of publicity law is being rushed through at the end of the legislative session in New York. Assembly Bill 8155-B (and its counterpart Senate Bill 5857-B) would dramatically expand New York’s right of publicity, making it a property right that can be passed on to your heirs – even if you aren’t a New York resident. EFF has sent a memorandum [PDF] to members of the New York State Legislature urging them not to support the bill.

      The right of publicity is an offshoot of state privacy law that gives a person the right to limit the public use of her name, likeness, or identity for commercial purposes. A limited version of this right makes sense—for example, allowing you to stop a company falsely claiming that you endorse its products. But the right of publicity has been expanded in recent years thanks to misguided legislation and court decisions. In some states, the right covers just about any speech that even “evokes” a person’s identity. Celebrities have brought right of publicity cases against movies, rap lyrics, magazine features, and computer games. The right of publicity has even been invoked to silence criticism of celebrities. Since the right of publicity can impact a huge range of speech, any changes to the law should be considered carefully.

    • How the Justice Department’s Seizure of a Reporter’s Email Records Subverts the Free Press

      The DOJ may have violated its own policies in seizing the email and phone records of a New York Times reporter.

      It emerged late Thursday that the Justice Department had secretly seized years of email and phone records of a New York Times reporter in connection with a leak investigation. This marks a clear escalation of the Trump administration’s attempts to intimidate journalists and their sources. In doing so, it seems that the Justice Department may have violated its own policies for obtaining reporters’ communications — strict standards that are in place because of the importance the Constitution places on freedom of the press.

      News of the invasive search came with the indictment of James Wolfe, who recently retired from his long tenure as a nonpartisan employee of the Senate Intelligence Committee. Wolfe is accused of lying to federal investigators about his contacts with three reporters. One of them is Ali Watkins, who has worked for The New York Times since December covering national security.

      The First Amendment’s protection of a free press is central to the public’s ability to hold government officials accountable for their actions. The Obama administration didn’t do journalists any favors by pursuing them in leak investigations more than any administration before it. But the Trump administration is accelerating this kind of attack on the public’s right to know, with Attorney General Jeff Sessions saying that he had tripled the Department of Justice’s leak investigations — one of them apparently ensnaring Watkins in the process.

    • Media Treat Trump Administration’s Partisan Fear-Mongering as Objective ‘Government’ Report

      If the lifelines of millions of poor and elderly were going to crumble in less than a generation, this would be major news indeed. But they’re not really. Or, at least, we have no objective reason to believe they will, since the authors of the report was not “the government,” as it’s generally understood—the Congressional Budget Office, or some other ostensibly bipartisan “commission” sanctioned by “both parties”—but the not-so-reliable Trump White House. The same White House that has a long, documented track record of venality, lying and corruption, and leads a Republican Party that has been quite explicit in its desire to “reform” Social Security and Medicare through slashing and privatizing.

      The report was commissioned by the US Social Security Trustees, a benign-sounding but overtly partisan group of people all appointed by Donald J. Trump. Of the seven slots, two are vacant and the other five—Steven T. Mnuchin, secretary of the Treasury; R. Alexander Acosta, secretary of Labor; Alex M. Azar II, secretary of Health and Human Services; Nancy A. Berryhill, acting commissioner of Social Security; and Mark J. Warshawsky, deputy commissioner for retirement and disability policy—were all put on the commission by the White House.

    • FBI Hoovered Up Two Years Of A Journalists’ Phone And Email Records To Hunt Down A Leaker

      The war on unofficial transparency continues — this time ensnaring a reporter. The indictment [PDF] shows Wolfe was in regular contact with four unnamed reporters and the classified info leaked apparently related to the investigation of Carter Page. (The indictment refers only to MALE-1.).

      Despite all the dots connected by the Justice Dept. after hoovering up email and phone records of four reporters, none of the charges brought against Wolfe involved mishandling classified info. All three charges listed are for lying to the FBI, not exposing secret info. While the info obtained may have been necessary to prove Wolfe lied to investigators, it does seem like a serious breach first amendment boundaries for nothing but vanilla “lied to the feds” charges. Those charges are mostly there for the government to punish people when it thinks it can’t nail down more serious charges.

    • Former spy, turned lawyer, talks the difficulties of suing the CIA
    • She was a CIA spy. Now she’s a lawyer battling her old agency. This is her story.
    • 1 year later: Channel 2 revisits NSA leaker case

      Reality Winner’s home in Augusta is no longer a minimalist yoga haven.

      There’s a TV in the living room, baby pictures framed around an open space and other signs that the house is now home to a family.

      It’s a rental property for a new family friend and a place for the alleged National Security Agency leaker’s mother to stay whenever she makes one of her frequent treks from Texas to Georgia.

      [...]

      “I don’t know why her story is not newsworthy,” said Billie Winner-Davis, Reality’s mother.

    • Counterterrorism Efforts Can Radicalize Homegrown Terrorists, Study Finds

      ounterterrorism policies targeting Muslim communities may actually be contributing to radicalization, according to a study of pro-ISIS and anti-Islamic internet search queries from 2014 to 2016 in more than 3,000 counties in America, the vast majority of the country.

      Researchers Christopher A. Bail, Friedolin Merhout, and Peng Ding examined the search queries to learn about how radicalization happens at the community level.

      Their findings, published in the open-access journal Science Advances, suggest that Muslims living in neighborhoods hostile to their presence are much more vulnerable to extremism than Muslims living in diverse neighborhoods.

    • Experts See Room for Courts in US Drone-Strike Program

      Convinced that a flawed algorithm marked them for death by U.S. killer drones, a pair of journalists have spent the last year fighting in Washington for unprecedented court relief.

    • How the CIA recruited and handled its top KGB mole

      On June 22, 1977, Aleksandr Ogorodnik killed himself with a CIA-supplied suicide pill after the KGB arrested him based on information initially provided by a mole within the Agency. Just over three weeks later, CIA officer Martha (Marti) Peterson — unaware of Aleksandr’s death — was seized in a KGB ambush while servicing a dead drop in Moscow.

      The streets of Moscow were one of the most important, and dangerous, battlefields of the Cold War. American intelligence officers like Marti worked with assets like Aleksandr in the shadows to collect Soviet secrets. The Soviets, in turn, closely watched all foreign nationals and their own citizens for signs of espionage.

    • The Espionage of Former CIA Case Officer Jerry Chun Shing Lee for China

      Was Jerry Chun Shing Lee (aka Zheng Cheng Li) a recruited asset of China’s Ministry for State Security (MSS), or was he a financially strapped former CIA case officer who volunteered his services to commit espionage on behalf of the MSS?

      It’s a bit like the question concerning the chicken and the egg, as Lee has been indicted for one count of conspiracy to gather and deliver defense information to aid a foreign government and two counts of unlawful retention of national defense information. Sticklers for detail will note that Lee was not charged with espionage. That charge may come in a superseding indictment or may never be put into play. From a purely counterintelligence optic, Lee’s engagement with the Chinese MSS has been neutralized and he is no longer able to do their bidding in a clandestine manner. We’ve written in the past about China’s nation state espionage activity and targeting of the United States. The Lee case is a prime example of the MSS successful actions.

    • Ex-CIA Officer’s Case Highlights Fears About Reach of Chinese Spying

      Former U.S. intelligence officer Kevin Mallory was months behind on his mortgage, $30,000 in debt, and getting financial help from his church, when Chinese agents approached him in 2017 to work for them…

    • Ex-CIA Contractor’s Trial Closes With Last-Gasp Effort to Sow Reasonable Doubt

      Had FBI agents overlooked a crumpled ball of tinfoil tossed haphazardly in former CIA contractor Kevin Mallory’s junk drawer during a raid of his home last June, he may never have faced espionage charges in federal court.

      “We overlooked it twice,” FBI agent Melinda Capitano told jurors as Mallory’s week-long trial which concluded Thursday.

    • Revealed: Chinese Front Company Used to Recruit U.S. Double Agents

      A single reference buried deep within hundreds of pages of court filings in the case of convicted CIA turncoat Kevin Mallory reveals the name of a Shanghai-based “executive search firm” that bears the hallmarks of a classic espionage front, former intelligence operatives from the U.S. and Russia tell The Daily Beast.

      The U.S. government’s evidence against Mallory, who was found guilty Friday of espionage-related charges, included a photograph of a business card belonging to alleged Chinese Ministry of State Security (MSS) agent Richard Yang, who presented himself as a corporate headhunter. Prosecutors said he was one of Mallory’s handlers. According to court documents, the picture was taken at Darren & Associates, a supposed corporate recruiter with no listed phone number or executives and an address that traces back to a rent-by-the-hour space on Shanghai’s Hubin Road.

    • Who Is Kevin Mallory? Former CIA Officer Sold Secrets to China

      ormer CIA officer Kevin Mallory faces a life sentence for selling secrets to Chinese intelligence officers, after a court case that offered a rare glimpse into how espionage assets are recruited ended in conviction.

      Most cases end in plea deals. Governments prefer to compromise rather than risk secrets being be exposed during a trial, and defendants’ are keen to negotiate down potentially brutal sentences.

    • Ex-CIA officer found guilty of espionage

      A former CIA officer was found guilty of espionage, on behalf of China, and lying to the FBI about communication with Chinese officials, the New York Times reports. The officer, Kevin Mallory, faces life in prison following the verdict.

    • Former CIA officer found guilty of spying for China

      A former Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) case officer faces life in prison after he was convicted of betraying his country to spy on behalf of China.

      Kevin Mallory, 61, of Leesburg, Virginia, was found guilty on Friday of espionage charges and lying to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) about his contacts with Chinese intelligence.

    • Ex-C.I.A. Officer Is Convicted of Spying for China

      A former C.I.A. case officer faces life in prison after he was convicted on Friday of betraying his country to spy on behalf of China.

      Kevin Mallory, 61, of Leesburg, Va., was found guilty of espionage charges and lying to the F.B.I. about his contacts with Chinese intelligence.

    • Ex-CIA Officer Is Facing Up to Life in Prison

      A former CIA officer was convicted Friday on charges he spied for China by providing top secret information in exchange for $25,000, the AP reports. Kevin Mallory, 61, of Leesburg, Virginia, faces up to life in prison, although federal sentences are often less than the maximum. A sentencing hearing is scheduled for Sept. 21. Mallory was charged under the Espionage Act last year after he was discovered with more than $16,000 in undeclared cash on a return flight from Shanghai. Prosecutors said he was desperate for cash and transmitted classified information to a Chinese handler. His acts were far from isolated as China actively tries to gather classified US information, federal prosecutors said immediately after his espionage conviction.

    • Jury convicts Leesburg man, CIA agent, of espionage
    • Ex-CIA officer from Leesburg found guilty of espionage
    • Ex-CIA Consultant Convicted On 4 Foreign-Aid Counts
    • Planting spies, paying people to post on social media, and pretending the news doesn’t exist: This is how China tries to distract people from human rights abuses

      The ways that China has been monitoring and ranking its citizens, secretly imprisoning ethnic minorities, and ignoring its LGBT community have been widely documented in the West.

      But citizens in China itself may have no idea that any of these things are going on.

      Beijing has a rich playbook of tactics to keep its 1.4 billion citizens from learning about the country’s repression and abuse of human rights. They include paying people to flood the internet with pro-government social media posts, setting up police surveillance points to watch over ethnic communities, and banning content criticising the Chinese government.

      Here are the four most commonly used tricks in Beijing’s playbook.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality
    • While the Net Neutrality Fight Continues, AT&T and Verizon are Opening a New Attack on ISP Competition

      In 1996, Congress passed the Telecommunications Act in order to inject competition into the telephone market and set the stage for a nascent commercial Internet. Last month, US Telecom, the trade association of AT&T and Verizon, filed a petition with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to repeal one of the central requirements of the ’96 Act that has promoted competition. That requirement being that incumbent telephone companies share their copper line infrastructure at regulated rates with to lower the barrier of entering an incumbent’s market. If granted, incumbent wireline telephone companies will be free to raise prices or simply disconnect competitors’ access to their infrastructure and potentially jeopardize what the small amount of remaining competition that exists in high-speed broadband.

      While copper wire infrastructure may strike people as the infrastructure of yesterday, its existence and the legal rights to access it remain essential for competitive entry into the high-speed broadband market. This is because it is one of the only remaining ways a new company can gain customers to then leverage to finance fiber optic deployment. Should the FCC grant the petition, the growing monopolization of high-speed broadband above 25 Mbps where more than half of Americans have only one choice will likely become worse.

    • Net neutrality will be repealed Monday unless Congress takes action

      In the Senate, the entire Democratic Caucus and three Republicans voted in favor of restoring net neutrality rules. The vote was 52-47. Republicans hold a 235-193 advantage in the House.

      When contacted by Ars, a spokesperson for Speaker Ryan declined to comment. The House’s Republican leadership doesn’t appear likely to seek a vote of the full House.

    • Senate Dems press Ryan to hold net neutrality vote

      All 49 Senate Democrats signed a letter to Ryan sent Thursday asking him to schedule a vote for the bill, which passed the Senate last month.

    • #NetNeutrality: 49 Senators urge Ryan to schedule House vote before protections expire

      In Washington today, U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan received a letter signed by 47 Senate Democrats and two independents calling on him to schedule a vote to keep Net Neutrality rules active.

    • Democrats urge U.S. House vote on net neutrality rules as end nears

      But to retain the net neutrality rules, the U.S. House must vote in line with the Senate, and President Donald Trump would also have to sign the measure.

  • Intellectual Monopolies
    • Every entity that owns 1,000 or more active US patents identified in new IAM and ktMINE research

      Close to 50% of all US patents are owned by a group of just 346 entities, research conducted by ktMINE has revealed. Published in issue 90 of IAM, which is now available to subscribers, the IAM/ktMINE US Patent 1000 Club consists of every company, NPE and institution that owns 1,000 or more active US patents.

      Between them the members of the club control 1.6 million assets – of which 928,328 are held by non-US organisations. However, not surprisingly, the US is the country that is most represented in the list, with 168 entities. Asian companies make up 30%, with Japanese businesses dominating within this group. Meanwhile, European entities fill 18% slots, controlling over 214,000 granted patents between them. There are no representatives from Latin America, Oceania or Africa.

      [...]

      Non-traditional patent owners also feature. These include RPX, Rambus and Intellectual Ventures. As larger companies spin off portfolios, license technologies and leverage other mechanisms to monetise their patent portfolios, this group is likely to grow.

    • Pro Se Loses

      At the start of discovery, Huang agreed to a protective order, including a designation for “attorney’s eyes only.” Huawei then used that “attorneys eyes only” designation when it disclosed the technical information for its accused chips. Since he had no attorney, Huang was unable to look at the disclosures. When Huawei later motioned for summary judgment of non-infringement, Huang responded with a number of previously undisclosed reverse-engineering figures and declarations from undisclosed witnesses.

    • US Section 301, China, and technology transfer: Law and its limitations revisited (again)

      Secretary Mnuchin confirmed that the US was suspending its plans to impose substantial tariff increases on Chinese goods intended to pressure China into modifying its practices. The announcement of an apparent agreement in principle did not expressly address major issues identified in the United States Trade Representative’s (USTR) Section 301 findings regarding China’s intellectual property and transfer of technology practices. Given that the next step in resolving the current impasse involves the dispatch of a high-level US delegation to China to work out the details, the contours of the ultimate resolution (if any) of the relevant issues remains uncertain. Nonetheless, at least for the moment, pressures on the multilateral trading system appear to be diminished.

      This “episode” in the long-running drama involving China and the US, with the European Union, Japan, and others in supporting roles, illustrates that political and economic diplomacy outside the strict confines of the World Trade Organization (WTO) remains important. The WTO legal system is not so comprehensive as to encompass the entire field of international trade, and it addresses international investment only in a limited way. Moreover, the current political dynamic in the US is one of immediacy and mutability, neither of which are characteristics of the WTO process. Multilateral solutions are complex, time-consuming, and generally expected to endure. Yet even within the presently chaotic international environment, we should discourage bilateralism from re-emerging as the “new normal,” mainly because experience does not recommend a more fragmented global trading system. Those countries with lesser political and economic bargaining power may be the most vulnerable in a fragmented world trading system.

    • Protecting IP rights in Saudi Arabia

      The creation of the Saudi Intellectual Property Authority is an important move by the Kingdom to recognise the interconnection between these key IP rights and it will allow the registration of these rights to be managed in a more effective and streamlined manner. One of the stated functions of the Authority is “promoting the benefit of intellectual property to build an advanced economy based on knowledge”. This resonates with the very changes that we are seeing in the dynamic economy of Saudi Arabia.

    • Conjectures On JPO’s Easing Of Requirements For Small Businesses To Use The Super Accelerated Examination Program

      Though the conjectures of late May have been unclear, an article back in February from the Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun suggested that the loosening of restrictions would be to allow a working invention without a foreign corresponding application. This would not make much difference for foreign venture applicants, so if this is the change the result may be negligible to overseas applicants. Rather, the move by the JPO (if as hinted) may be to give small-sized Japanese companies a competitive edge in getting fast results domestically for new technologies.

    • Japan: Q&A: Deadline And Scope For Filing Voluntary Amendments To Japanese Patent Applications

      It is simplest to file a Voluntary Amendment with or before the Request for Examination of a patent application in Japan. However, you may also file Voluntary Amendments after the Request for Examination is filed, as long as substantive examination by the Japan Patent Office (JPO) has not commenced. Within that time frame, you are free to amend as you wish as long as amendments are grounded on the original claims, specification, or drawings.

      Please be aware that once a JPO examiner has begun the substantive examination process, even if you submit a Voluntary Amendment, it might not be considered. It is possible to have a Japanese patent agent check with the JPO for its estimated (but non-binding) examination commencement period (not precise date) for a particular case. If there is still time before the examination will begin, you might want to file a Voluntary Amendment even after submitting the Request for Examination. Note that any change in subject matter must take place before examination.

    • Copyrights
      • Google Blacklists Millions of Pirate URLs Before They’re Indexed

        Google maintains a rapidly growing list of copyright-infringing URLs which they haven’t indexed yet. This blacklist ensures that these links are never added to the search engine. Thanks to a new update in the transparency report, we now know how many non-indexed links every takedown notice includes, which is surprisingly high in some cases.

      • Chuck Palahniuk Apologizes For Blaming Piracy For His Business Partner Stealing His Money

        Chuck Palahniuk has long been a personal hero of mine. Back when I fancied myself a fiction writer, I gobbled up his books, engrossed in the characters he was able to create. It was only years later, then writing for Techdirt, that a chip in my impression of Palahniuk emerged when he started his habit of blaming his finances on the piracy of his works. Palahniuk claimed that piracy was responsible for his “dwindling income.” This, despite selling a ton of books and movie options, sounded strange — especially given that book piracy is much more limited than things like music, movies or software. Where was he getting it from?

        Well, Palahniuk himself answers that question in a recent blog post on his site. It turns out the idea that piracy was to blame for his money troubles came from the accountant in charge of his royalties at his literary agency. That same accountant, it turns out, has now been charged with defauding the agency out of millions of dollars. Palahniuk now says he knows exactly what dwindled his income and it wasn’t piracy.

      • Anti-piracy group’s study reveals that pirates are mostly people who couldn’t afford, find, or use a commercial version
      • RIAA: ISP’s Interest in Piracy Phishing Scam Is a ‘Fishing Expedition’

        A controversial phishing campaign where scammers used fake piracy settlements to extort cash was brought to the forefront again recently. ISP Grande Communications wants to use it as evidence in their repeat infringer case against the RIAA, but the music group sees this effort as a pointless fishing expedition.

      • YouTube Can Be Liable For Copyright Infringing Videos, Court Rules

        In an initial order, a court in Vienna, Austria, has ruled that YouTube can be held directly liable for users’ copyright infringements. The video service is not seen as a neutral intermediary and should do more to prevent infringing uploads. The ruling, which is not yet legally binding, is a win for local television channel Puls 4 but YouTube indicates that, if it stands, the company will likely appeal.

      • Court Orders Finnish ISPs to Block RARBG and YIFY

        A Finnish court has ordered seven Internet providers to block access to the popular torrent sites RARBG and YIFY. According to the court, it is clear that the operators of the sites generate substantial revenue by illegally sharing copyright-infringing content. The ISPs are required to use both DNS and IP-address blocking to make the sites unavailable.

      • EU Advocate General: Right to Private Life Shouldn’t Hinder Copyright Enforcement

        In the EU, everyone has the right to respect for his or her private and family life. But should that right be used to prevent copyright holders from enforcing their rights when someone from a household shares copyrighted content without permission? A just-published opinion from EU Advocate General Szpunar says it should not.

Deception on § 101/Alice Continues, Courtesy of Firms That Are Making Money From Worthless (Bunk) Software Patents

Sunday 10th of June 2018 10:49:22 AM

Just projecting their personal agenda

Summary: 35 U.S.C. § 101 does not seem to matter to people whose living is made from litigation and patent pursuits on (or pertaining to) algorithms; we rebut a few examples from the past week, reminding readers that lawyers aren’t credible advisors on issues they stand to gain from (at clients’ and innocent companies’ expense)

THE collapse of software patents is very much a reality in the US. Don’t ask law firms; they just want to sell more ‘services’ (e.g. lawsuits and patent applications) around that.

The other day in Law.com there was an article with the term “Open Source” in the headline, which got our attention. Don’t be misled though; Law.com is traditionally a Free/Open Source software-hostile site, typically helping lawyers sell services around licence compliance and other things which are marketed by FUD. “Patents and open source are not mutually exclusive,” someone (a self-appointed expert) is quoted as saying in this new piece.

“They’re alluding to the corporate ‘flavour’ of “Open Source”, not Free/Open Source software.”Actually, they are. They’re not compatible. Software patents and Free/Open Source software cannot co-exist. “You can do both and do both correctly,” continues the self-appointed expert, “but it takes education, especially for people who are newer in the industry.”

They’re alluding to the corporate ‘flavour’ of “Open Source”, not Free/Open Source software. “Moore said engineers often join Pure Storage from companies that were not engaged in open source projects,” the author writes, “and expect a similar policy. Others are pro-open source, but may not know the benefits of patents.”

So they’re trying to market software patents to companies which claim to be “Open Source”, such as Red Hat (it’s applying for software patents and really ought to stop doing that). “That’s one reason why Gideon Myles,” continues the author, “lead IP counsel at San Francisco-based Dropbox Inc., said his company educates new employees on both processes.”

“When it comes to patents in general (i.e. not software), patents may make sense, but as far as Free/Open Source software is concerned, there should be no patents in that (their) domain. No good would come out of this.”In other words, they’re wasting employees’ capacity and reducing their productivity because of silly patents.

Are these actually worth pursuing anymore? No.

But that’s not what lawyers (with fanciers job titles like “IP counsel”) want companies to believe, or else they’ll lose their job if not the entire legal department.

When it comes to patents in general (i.e. not software), patents may make sense, but as far as Free/Open Source software is concerned, there should be no patents in that (their) domain. No good would come out of this.

Sadly, as media in this domain remains dominated by law firms (or authors who extensively quote them), one may easily get the impression that software patents are still potent, even in the face of § 101/Alice.

In a new guest post by “Benjamin C. Stasa, Shareholder, Brooks Kushman PC, Southfield, Michigan and David C. Berry, Director, Patent Procurement Clinic, Wayne State University Law School, Detroit, Michigan” (i.e. mostly the patent ‘industry’) they suggest workarounds to bypass § 101. They’re also trying to water down § 101 or obliterate it by any means possible/available.

From the outline:

We offer an alternative approach for amending § 101 to allow some range of patentability for inventions directed to judicially-recognized eligibility exceptions. Rather than attempting to redefine the line between eligible and ineligible subject matter (a revision that preserves the current all-or-nothing approach), we propose amending §101 to implement disclosure-based limits on the scope of claims directed to judicially-recognized exceptions (abstract ideas, laws of nature, and natural phenomena).

It’s the same old tricks; IBM and IPO lobby along those lines, as we shall show later today. They say they want to “amend” § 101, but what they mean to say is “weaken”. § 101 is based on several judgments from the Supreme Court, yet these people think that some blog post of theirs, based on their financial agenda, has relevance to § 101?

“There’s no quantitative/numerical data to support an assertion like “comeback” for software patents.”§ 101 is already very clear, but Iancu (who is acting like a ‘mole’ of the patent microcosm, at least thus far in his term, serving or speaking for the litigation ‘industry’ he came from) does’t like it and wants it thwarted in defiance of the Supreme Court. Here’s a new tweet about it: “#BIO2018 IP track kicked off with opening remarks from Andrei Iancu of the @uspto. Clarifying #section101 and changing the dialogue to focus on brilliance of #inventors high on agenda.”

Well, the Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO) is an anti-PTAB lobbying body and for Andrei Iancu to even attend this event says a lot about his interests. Also on the subject of § 101, Mondaq republished a piece from Charlene Lipchen (Field LLP). She is misleading people if she seriously thinks that there’s a software patents rebound in the US (there’s none), calling it a “Glimmer Of Hope” and stating the following upfront: “It remains a general rule, in patent law, that one cannot obtain a patent for an abstract idea. Over the years, patent claims for methods implemented by computers and software have been struck down by the courts, on the basis that merely using a general-purpose computer to implement an abstract idea does not make the abstract idea patentable. More recently, since the Supreme Court of the United States’ 2014 decision in Alice Corp. v. CLS Bank, a software patent case providing a revised test for determining what is patentable subject matter, most patents containing claims to software challenged in US courts have been struck down. The patent claims at issue in Alice were directed to a method for implementing an intermediated settlement between parties.”

“A fortnight ago we began seeing pure spin by patent extremists, claiming that § 101 would see the US Congress/Senate involved, but that was something that people nowadays call “fake news”.”That’s that same optimism we’ve just responded to. There’s no quantitative/numerical data to support an assertion like “comeback” for software patents. And Iancu cannot change that either; he’s not a judge. Law is outside his scope of authority.

A fortnight ago we began seeing pure spin by patent extremists, claiming that § 101 would see the US Congress/Senate involved, but that was something that people nowadays call “fake news”.

A new article by Matthew Bultman (with his usual patent maximalist slant, which we took note of before [1, 2, 3, 4]) speaks of a “High Court” being “begged”, but no such thing happened. A high court wasn’t mentioned at all. This is more of that pure spin, a 180 degrees spin in Law 360. To quote:

The Cleveland Clinic Foundation on Friday seized on a Federal Circuit judge’s recent call for a “higher authority” to clarify what is eligible for a patent, telling the U.S. Supreme Court a current state of confusion begs for intervention.

The clinic, which is fighting a decision that invalidated three patents on cardiovascular disease tests, highlighted comments Circuit Judge Alan Lourie made last week when the appeals court denied separate rehearing requests from HP Inc. and Green Shades Software Inc.

The term “higher authority” does not imply “High Court” like Bultman’s headline insinuates. In fact, there’s no evidence at all that anyone at all is going to revisit these cases. § 101 remains in tact.

As is widely known, § 101/Alice isn’t taken as seriously by the lower courts. Yes, at the lower courts (District Courts) as opposed to the Federal Circuit (CAFC), § 101 is more likely to be swept aside, as was the case in Hybrid Audio, LLC v Visual Land, Inc.

Joseph Herndon, writing about a trial in a California District Court, managed to find one of those 35 U.S.C. § 101 cases in which judges dismissed the defendant’s argument:

In the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, Hybrid Audio, LLC sued Visual Land, Inc. for patent infringement with respect to audio signal processing technology used in conjunction with MP3 technologies. Defendant filed a motion to dismiss, alleging that the patent was invalid under 35 U.S.C. § 101. Despite seemingly very broad claims, the Court found that it was clear from the asserted patent that the claims were directed to an improvement in the functioning of a computer, and thus, were patent eligible.

The patent at issue is entitled “Signal Processing Utilizing a Tree-Structured Array,” which originally issued as U.S. Patent No. 6,252,909 on June 26, 2001. After a reissue application was filed for the ’909 Patent, the ’909 Patent reissued with certificate number RE40,281, and subsequently, a request for reexamination of the ’281 Patent was filed, and the PTO issued a reexamination certificate for the ’281 Patent confirming patentability of the reexamined claims.

[...]

Thus, despite broad claims that recite only functional aspects, and no physical components or elements that perform the functions, the claims were found to be patent eligible because the patent disclosure clearly set forth how the claimed processes improved computer functionality as compared to prior art. This enable the plaintiff to show that the claims were necessarily rooted in computer technology, solved a technical problem with a technical solution, and improved upon prior computer technology—all factors weighing in favor of patent eligibility.

If this gets appealed (to CAFC), this patent will likely be invalidated as per/in lieu with § 101 (as usual).

Have we come to the point where it’s so hard for patent lawyers to find CAFC rulings in favour of software patents? Are they now looking for supportive cases at lower courts?

Still ‘Pulling a Berkheimer’ Almost 4 Months Down the Line

Sunday 10th of June 2018 09:09:34 AM

Summary: Refusing to let go or leave behind an opportunity to bash patent invalidations, the patent microcosm just keeps bringing up Berkheimer v HP ad infinitum

When the Federal Circuit delivered a judgment on Berkheimer the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) did not seem to mind as much as the patent extremists minded; Berkheimer just wasn’t a very major case, so Iancu's comments revealed whose side he was on. Watchtroll says that the “USPTO asks Federal Circuit to Vacate, Remand 101 Case to Board in Light of Berkheimer,” but as we noted earlier today (and will show later today), this is the exception rather than the norm. They’re cherry-picking. Berkheimer is very rarely brought up in today’s patent cases (rulings/opinions/determinations/judgments/arguments).

A week and a half ago (on May 31st) there was a case related to this. Dechert LLP was trying to ‘pull a Berkheimer‘ (we say 'pull', but they say things like “Berkheimer effect”) in order to shed uncertainty and doubt about many decisions to invalidate patents at the Patent Trial and Appeal Board as well as the Federal Circuit. From their summary:

The United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit refused rehearing en banc of two significant decisions regarding patent-eligibility under § 101 (Aatrix and Berkheimer) on May 31, with a majority of active judges on the court affirming that the patent-eligibility inquiry, though a question of law, implicates subsidiary questions of fact. The effect of these cases will be to make it substantially more difficult to invalidate patents as being directed to patent ineligible abstract ideas or natural laws before trial. There was substantial uncertainty as to whether the earlier panel decisions would be adopted by the full Federal Circuit, but that uncertainty has now been partly resolved.

As we showed last weekend, they had explicitly expressed reluctance to deal with that case/issue any further. Berkheimer is just some perceived ‘lifeline’ or ‘rope’ to patent maximalists, such as the anti-PTAB site Anticipat. It mentioned Berkheimer 4 days ago when it said:

Since the two weeks since we predicted that the PTAB would start to dramatically change its outcomes of rejections under Section 101, we have seen no such change. Since then, recap emails have mostly shown affirmances (only 7 reversals of 86 total Section 101 decisions = 8% reversal rate). But a decision in yesterday’s recap email shows precisely the kind of rejection analysis that is expected to become more mainstream at the PTAB.

Ex Parte Galloway et al (PTAB May 22, 2018) reversed the judicial exception rejection under Section 101 because of a lack of evidence. The panel, consisting of Donald E. Adams, Demetra J. Mills, and Ulrike W. Jenks, found that the Examiner had not provided evidence to support a prima facie case of patent ineligible subject matter.

The panel cited to Berkheimer in support of an apparent defective step 2 analysis: “The Examiner has not established with appropriate factual evidence that the claimed method uses conventional cell counting methods.”

They’re again cherry-picking while openly admitting (as highlighted above) that they were wrong. Berkheimer has virtually no bearing/significance. As we said many times before, judges have left Berkheimer behind and the only ones who keep bringing it up are the patent maximalists.

It’s time to leave Berkheimer in the past and stop ‘pulling a Berkheimer‘ every other day/week.

Everyone Talks About Apple’s Notorious Design Patents But Not About ‘Abstract’ European Patents Used Against Apple and Linux

Sunday 10th of June 2018 08:18:15 AM

A ‘Battistelli era’ patent

Summary: What corporate media and the ‘mainstream’ speak of in relation to Apple and what more ‘niche’ bloggers pay attention to, serving to highlight a decline in patent quality at the European Patent Office (EPO)

LAST weekend we wrote about Zeroclick, LLC v Apple, Inc. We took note of the relation to a very malicious patent troll, Erich Spangenberg. Days later Watchtrolll wrote about this case as well, adding virtually no new information.

But Apple remains in headlines (about patents) mostly because of its own battles against Android (and by extension Linux). Professor Michael Risch’s analysis of Apple v Samsung is only days old and it speaks of the massive “damages” of ~$533,000,000. Risch’s views:

I’ve done a few interviews about the latest Apple v. Samsung design patent jury verdict, but journalistic space means I only get a couple sentences in. So, I thought I would lay out a couple points I see as important. We’ll see if they hold up as predictions.

There’s been a lot written about the case, so I won’t rehash the epic story. Here’s the short version. The design patent law affords the winning plaintiff all of the profits on the infringing article of manufacture. The Supreme Court ruled (reversing about 100 years of opposite practice) that the article of manufacture could be less than the entire accused device for sale. Because the original jury instructions did not consider this, the Court remanded for a determination of what the infringing article of manufacture was in this case (the design patents covered the shape of the phone and the default screen). The Federal Circuit remanded, and the District Court decided that, yes, in fact, the original jury instructions were defective and ordered a retrial of damages.

The District Court adopted the Solicitor General’s suggested test to determine what the article of manufacture was, determined that under that test it was a disputed fact question, and sent it to the jury. Apple asked for $1 billion. Samsung asked for $28 million. The jury awarded $533 million, which is more than $100 million more than the damages were before the Supreme Court ruled.

Josh Landau (CCIA) too wrote about these design patents, probably for the dozenth time or so. “Comments from Samsung Jurors Drive Home The Flaws In Design Patents,” Landau argued.

Flawed Logic

The logic of the jury’s verdict also requires a different result than profits on the entire device.

Even if we assume, contrary to both good policy and established case law, that profits on the components that produce the icon grid are available, those components still aren’t the whole phone. The cellular hardware, for example, is not involved in producing a display (after all, Apple’s iPod Touch produced a similar display without any cellular functionality), but is still part of Samsung’s total costs and profits. For that matter, the external casing isn’t required in order to produce the grid of icons.

If the article of manufacture is defined by the hardware required to produce the icon grid, then it’s also defined as something other than the entire phone.

Flawed Results

It all comes back to a single problem. The design patent total profits rule produces tests that are incoherent and impossible to apply when design patents are available for small pieces of complex, multi-component products. The total profits rule of § 289 simply doesn’t make sense in these situations.

We’re very disappointed to see Apple stooping to ‘Microsoft levels’ and 7-8 years ago we called for an Apple boycott (this made it into sites like Slashdot at the time). Has much changed since? Other than Steve Jobs’ death?

Well, sometimes we openly support Apple’s patent battles, e.g. against Qualcomm. As we explained before, if Apple wins this dispute, it will be good for phones that have Linux in them as well.

As it turns out, Qualcomm now uses a software patent granted by the EPO. To quote Florian Müller:

In 10 minutes: #Qualcomm v. #Apple #patent infringement trial in Mannheim, Germany. Patent-in-suit: EP2954737 on a „power tracker for multiple transmit signals sent simultaneously“.

He later added:

After Judge Dr. Kircher of the Mannheim Regional Court expressed serious doubts about the validity of #Qualcomm‘s EP2954737, QCOM felt forced to stipulate, with #Apple, to a stay of this case pending the EPO‘s decision (in a year or so) on Apple and #Intel‘s opposition. https://twitter.com/fosspatents/status/1003968003413815298 …

On why it’s a software patent:

Yet another software patent: “the functions described may be implemented in hardware, software, firmware, or any combination thereof. If implemented in software, the functions may be stored on or transmitted over as one or more instructions or code on a readable medium”

Well, software patents like these have plagued the EPO, not just the USPTO. We doubt any of that will change under António Campinos; it’s like the EPO goes in the very opposite direction of the US (where the Federal Circuit and Patent Trial and Appeal Board invalidate software patents en masse).

Müller later put it together in a blog post [via], having watched this dispute for quite some time. To quote:

Four months back, Qualcomm’s lead counsel in the German Qualcomm v. Apple cases, Quinn Emanuel’s Dr. Marcus Grosch, hoped to obtain a Germany-wide patent injunction against Apple this summer. The related case (one of various patent infringement claims Qualcomm has brought against Apple in Germany) went to trial this afternoon, and it’s unlikely that anything, if ever, will happen in that particular matter before the summer of 2019.

The patent-in-suit, EP2954737 on a “power tracker for multiple transmit signals sent simultaneously,” is under massive pressure because of Apple and Intel’s opposition to its recent grant. Of the four prior art references cited, Alcatel Lucent’s European patent application EP2442440A1 poses the greatest–though not the only–threat to Qualcomm’s patent.

Why did the EPO foolishly grant such a patent? In the US, in the meantime, software patents are being invalidated and yesterday Müller gave a new example:

Yesterday the United States Patent and Trademark Office had bad news for a particularly broad member of Twitter’s key patent family, U.S. Patent No. 9,088,532 on a “device[-]independent message disribution platform.” As I reported in March, the ’532 patent is being reexamined based on a patent application by independent Indian inventor Yogesh Rathod as well as a couple of other prior art references. The reexamination requested related to claims 1-3, 8, 9, 13-15, 17, 20, and 21, all of which are being reexamined. In a (first) Office communication since opening the reexamination proceedings, the USPTO has held all of the reexamined claims invalid, challenging Twitter to persuade the examiner that its patent claims should be upheld.

Prior art rather than Section 101 (or similar) was cited here, but still… it’s a testament or evidence of the fact that the US improves patent quality, whereas Europe moves in the opposite direction under Battistelli’s crooked leadership.

Growth in Petitions Against Questionable Patents (PTAB IPRs) and Patent Trolls’ Migration to China

Sunday 10th of June 2018 07:33:27 AM

In spite of fee hikes, inter partes reviews (IPRs) are still up

Summary: The United States is saying goodbye to a lot of the nuisance which held back development of good products; there’s meanwhile a reported surge in patent litigation in China (up as much as 85% in Guangdong)

The Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) is seeing work being shifted to it from what otherwise might have been court battles. This is good because it keeps disputes within the realms of the USPTO, hence less expensive (favours the interests of relatively small firms which are easy target/prey to trolls). Attempts to use the Supreme Court’s SAS Institute v Iancu to slow down PTAB (giving it more workload) aren’t succeeding. The patent maximalists have just said this:

Chief Judge Ruschke reveals 44% of pending cases were not instituted on all grounds and that the Board has already granted more than a dozen extensions to trials in response to SAS

“CAFC [the Federal Circuit] Determines No Requirement To Reopen Non-Instituted Claims Post-SAS” however, according to Josh Landau, who 3 days ago wrote this:

PGS owns a patent on certain techniques for marine seismic surveying.

In November 2014, WesternGeco challenged the validity of PGS’s patent at the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB). The PTAB instituted IPR on some, but not all, of the PGS patent’s claims. WesternGeco settled out of the IPR, but the PTAB continued the IPR. In June 2016, the PTAB invalidated some of the claims on which it had instituted the IPR.

PGS appealed the PTAB’s final decision to the Federal Circuit, and the case was argued in April of 2018, a week after the SAS opinion was handed down.

Faced with the question of whether to reopen claims where institution was denied, the Federal Circuit determined that there was no reason (particularly where no party requested it) to reopen those claims, and that it was permissible to deal with only the claims that the PTAB actually decided.

We’re going to revisit this separately later today (in relation to more relevant an argument/context).

“…It’s up an incredible 85% in Guangdong; good for patent lawyers, but we know at whose expense.”In the meantime, statistics speak for themselves. Instead of filing patent lawsuits, based on these numbers, people and firms now file complaints about bogus patents to be invalidated by the USPTO (which wrongly granted these). To quote:

Post-Oil States PTAB filing increases while district court patent case filing slumps to lowest figure this year

Patent Trial and Appeal Board petition filing was up in May while district court patent case filing slumped.

PTAB is becoming the big scene with all the action. Soon, according to this morning’s post, “Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) Judges Kalyan Deshpande, Susan Mitchell, and Michael Zecher will provide an explanation of Board jurisdiction, rules, and proceedings, and then lead a discussion on practice tips for successful oral and written advocacy in the PTAB forum.”

Where have all the trolls gone? Some of them moved to China. As Jacob Schindler from the patent trolls’ lobby (IAM) put it just before the weekend, in China “the number of first instance patent cases grew by nearly 30% year-on-year to about 16,000 in 2017. The Supreme People’s Court (SPC) reports that more than half of this activity took place in the three key regions that are home to specialised IP courts – Beijing, Shanghai and Guangdong.”

It’s up an incredible 85% in Guangdong; good for patent lawyers, but we know at whose expense. China’s embrace of patent maximalism is a shot in its own foot.

Gervase Markham Outlines the Case Against Software Patents

Sunday 10th of June 2018 06:59:52 AM


By Didyktile, licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license.

Summary: “Innovation in software proceeds at a rapid pace, and does not need the “encouragement” of patents,” explains Markham

The former Governator at the Mozilla Corporation, Gervase Markham (the programmer, not the poet), has something to say about software patents. “In 2006,” according to Wikipedia, “he won a Google-O’Reilly Open Source Award as “Best Community Activist” [...] and has been undergoing treatment for metastatic adenoid cystic carcinoma.”

“As we have stressed so many times before, almost every software developer is against software patents.”We were very saddened to learn some months ago that his time alive might be very limited. His words about software patents are therefore more critical/important to preserve.

Spotted via the blog (in Planet Mozilla) of the developer, Gervase Markham, was this piece titled “A Case for the Total Abolition of Software Patents” (later mentioned in Soylent News as well). “A little while back,” it says, “I wrote a piece outlining the case for the total abolition (or non-introduction) of software patents, as seen through the lens of “promoting innovation”. Few of the arguments are new, but the “Narrow Road to Patent Goodness” presentation of the information is quite novel as far as I know, and may form a good basis for anyone trying to explain all the possible problems with software (or other) patents.”

From the introduction:

Very few software patents make it down the road to patent goodness. The vast majority cost the company money to file and then lie gathering dust, acting only to provide a vague chilling effect on innovation in that area for those brave enough to do a patent search. A few become famous and tie up an enormous amount of industry and lawyer time and money. And almost none achieve that fabled goal of protecting the small inventor from the large rapacious company which wants to “steal his idea” and leave him penniless. If you add to that poor hit-rate the negative systemic effects from having a software patent system, it seems to me that the conclusion becomes obvious. Innovation in software proceeds at a rapid pace, and does not need the “encouragement” of patents. Software patents are a problem for the industry now, and will only be a bigger one in the future. We should work to end them.

We are going to keep this archived in case the domain expires in the future. As we have stressed so many times before, almost every software developer is against software patents. Patent law firms don’t like to talk about it.

Shawn Ambwani (Unified Patents) Refutes the US Chamber of Commerce on Patents, But the Patent Trolls’ Lobby (IAM) Uses Him to Trot Out Yet More Misleading Propaganda

Saturday 9th of June 2018 07:49:43 PM

Having run out of factual/legitimate arguments, they nowadays resort to nutty conspiracy theories about Google

Summary: Coming to grips with the strengthening of patents (quality) in the United States, those who rely on low-quality patents for blackmail purposes fire back at opponents of patent trolls and some persist with the crazy conspiracy theory that claims “Google” is behind everything

THE SCOTUS-complying USPTO will have to narrow down patent scope or risk being repeatedly embarrassed by the Federal Circuit (for having granted patents in error, reducing confidence in US patents).

Unified Patents, which we support, keeps demonstrating that some notorious US patents (used extensively for litigation or shakedown) are in fact bogus patents. It has just happened again to Roaring Brook Advisors, which certainly looks like a patent troll to Unified Patents. There was a bounty (they now offer those) and here’s the outcome:

Unified is pleased to announce the PATROLL crowdsourcing contest winner, Rohit Sood, who received a cash prize of $2000 for his prior art submission for U.S. Patent 6,909,359, allegedly owned by Roaring Brook Advisors, LLC, a suspected NPE. The ’359 patent generally relates to a medical notification device that may be worn as a wristwatch. To help the industry fight bad patents, we have published the winning prior art below.

The Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) came to the rescue yet again, combating bad patents of Silver State Intellectual Technologies. To quote Jain:

On June 8, 2018 the Board granted Silver State Intellectual Technologies’ request for adverse judgment and cancellation of all challenged claims in IPR2017-01198 filed by Unified Patents. This request comes after the PTAB’s decision to institute trial (and mere weeks before the Board’s anticipated final decision) on all claims of US 8,538,498 directed to an information and control system for use in a vehicle capable of communicating with remote servers through a communications network.

As one might expect, Unified Patents has come under attack from patent extremists who are connected to trolls. We gave some examples of these attacks before. It certainly seems like patent quality is a scary concept to some people and Unified Patents is a convenient ‘whipping boy’.

Recently, the patent trolls’ lobby (IAM) worked hard to deny and discredit a study from IP2Innovate, refusing to accept the simple fact that patent trolls are a growing problem in Europe. IAM is IP2Litigate. This is basically IAM’s job; they’re the voice of patent trolls. Recently came a ‘study’ they could actually embrace, not because it was rooted in facts but because the message suited the bogus narrative trotted out by the litigation ‘industry’. These patent maximalists were just trying to improve their profits by lying to officials with a bogus 'ladder' that IAM would soon boost along with Watchtroll and even Iancu himself.

Something a little surprising happened yesterday because on the face of it IAM permitted a refutation by Unified Patents’ Shawn Ambwani. “The authors of a much-quoted ranking that records a big drop in the standing of the US patent system have serious questions to answer about their methodology,” said the tweet. Sounds promising, right?

Patent maximalist Richard Lloyd precedes Unified Patents’ views with the usual nonsense. He dismisses this by promoting the controversial ‘study’ and attacking others’ studies, like one about patent trolls in Europe (IP2Innovate). This is how Lloyd writes, in essence attacking the very text he’s about to copy-paste:

In recent years much has been written and spoken about the relative decline of the US patent system recorded by the Global Innovation Policy Center’s “IP Index”. While in IP generally, the Index states that the US remains in number one place overall, its patent score has slipped. Last year the US lost its number one ranking, falling to 10th, level with Hungary. This year, while the US patent score went up, it still slipped two places.

The centre is an affiliate of the US Chamber of Commerce and its analysis of the American patent system has been seized on by various members of the patent community who are highly critical of recent changes introduced by both the courts and Congress. But should the index be relied on as an accurate measure of relative global standing?

We have been highly critical of how data has been used and abused with regard to patents in both the US and elsewhere over the years. For example, decidely dodgy claims have been made about the activities of NPEs over the years to justify patent reform in the US – something that is now spreading to Europe. Patents are a subject that legislators know little about and because of that the way data is presented really matters.Given how important innovation policy is, decsions have to be based on reality not on spin. And that applies to all sides in the argument.

According to Unified Patents’ Shawn Ambwani and Jonathan Stroud there are serious question marks over the methodology used by ththose who compile the rankings. These, they say, should be addressed before the index is used by anyone to advocate for a particular position.

How many people will ever read further? Lloyd just used this as an opportunity for lobbying, which is basically what he does in the US (under the guise of “journalism”).

“Shawn Ambwani is chief operating officer and Jonathan Stroud is chief IP counsel at Unified Patents,” it says at the bottom, but many paragraphs at the top are the lobbyists’ own.

Here’s what Ambwani said (excerpt):

The index also lacks context. The GIPIC starts its analysis by asking: “Does a given economy’s intellectual property system provide a reliable basis for investment in the innovation and creativity lifecycle?” But it never addresses or defines those terms; if innovation, investment and economic benefit aren’t defined in the index, how are they measured?

The report ostensibly spends substantial effort developing methodology and scoring to compare countries based on self-selected “baselines” on the pro-enforcement policies of the GIPC, but it does not show how its scoring correlates to or reflects “investment in the innovation and creativity lifecycle”. There is no suggestion, much less proof, that the US economy has suffered at all, much less at the hands of patent policies. There is also no evidence connecting the eight indicators to historical “investment”. The correlation between IP enforcement to economic benefit for US companies or the US economy (absent equal detriment to other US companies) have yet to be shown by any quantitative measurement.

Until innovation can be demonstrably related to the scores in the index, it remains little more than a transparent lobbyist’s tool. The first step toward repairing credibility would be to demonstrate that the scores affect innovation before trying to measure them for the future; that is, unless the purpose of the index is really just to provide talking points to lobbyists and policy hawks to support the ease of patent monetisation against other US companies.

We already wrote some responses to this, but we don’t have the ‘fire power’ or ‘access’ of well-funded (by trolls and law firms) lobbyists. They keep brainwashing USPTO officials (more on that later this weekend) and spreading ridiculous conspiracy theories, insinuating that patent law is improving just because of “Evil” Google (the latest headline from Steve Brachmann, published on June 8th, is “Google Changes Its Code of Conduct After Years of Being Evil Towards Patent Owners”). What have they got to show for it? The core paragraph is this: “To accuse Google of operating with malevolent intent in recent years in order to serve its own corporate interests. First of all, consider Google’s ample financial largesse to D.C. politicians around the time that the America Invents Act (AIA) was signed into law. This includes the $800,000 contributed to former President Barack Obama’s 2012 election campaign (making it the third-largest contributor to the Obama campaign), the nearly $900,000 contributed to federal candidates running in 2012 for the House and the Senate (which was split 49 percent to Democrats and 50 percent to Republicans) and the $18 million total lobbying expenditures during 2012, the eighth-largest federal lobbying total among all entities. If spending money to influence political debate towards unjust ends is evil, Google’s been guilty of that for years.”

What about law firms? And pharmaceutical companies? And countless others that are patent maximalists? What about technology companies other than Google? Google is like a drop in the ocean compared to the whole, but never let sites like Watchtroll (or IAM for that matter) digest reality, facts etc. that threaten loyalties with their own funding sources.

Data From the USPTO Almost Confirms Suspicions That People Named in Patents Are Likely Unrelated (Nothing to Do With These Patents)

Saturday 9th of June 2018 06:20:32 PM

And it’s only getting worse and more severe over time

Summary: Dennis Crouch on the growth in the number of supposed ‘authors’, citations/priorities, and the copy-paste culture of patent law firms (introducing patent applications which approach 1,000 pages in length, over-encumbering examiners)

BACK when I was writing and (peer) reviewing papers we used to joke about papers with dozens of authors. Surely it’s impossible for all of them to have actively participated in the research and the typing of a paper, but it was mutually agreed that one person would enlist everyone else as “author” and others would recipricate, artificially inflating people’s citation score (as measured by number of papers authored or co-authored). Nowadays it’s quite rare/hard to find published academic work with just one author on it. It was a lot more common the past, but perhaps with scoring mechanisms becoming digitised and easy to game/rig (knowing the formula) practices have generally ‘evolved’ to help one get promoted.

“Nowadays it’s quite rare/hard to find published academic work with just one author on it.”Just like what happens in academia/scholarly papers, people now game the patent system by throwing lots of names (“the whole Office” is what we used to call that) into patent applications (like paper “submissions”) and there may therefore be an illusion of greater participation. People are inflating their egos by having their names ‘slapped’ onto more and more patents, whose overall number (patents granted per year) rises as well.

“Back in the 1970s and 1980s,” Crouch notes, “most patents listed only a single inventor. Since then, the percentage of one-inventor patents has steadily dropped while larger teams (3+ inventors) have flourished.”

“Some CEOs of very large companies, such as Steve Jobs (extremely unlikely to have participated in drafting of patents), get listed in perhaps a thousand patents.”The graph is quite telling. It also explains a lot. Some CEOs of very large companies, such as Steve Jobs (extremely unlikely to have participated in drafting of patents), get listed in perhaps a thousand patents.

Another new chart from Crouch “shows the percentage of issued utility patents that claim priority back to a prior U.S. patent application – either a prior non-provisional (via continuation, continuation-in-part, or divisional application) or to a provisional application. Data goes through May 31, 2018.”

Last year we explained how law firms reusing texts and broadening their templates over time would likely mean an increase in the number of cited patents, cases etc. The ‘maturity’ of many patents is likely ‘faked’ to some degree; a lot of that is a copy-paste job. They conflate/mistake quantity for quality, failing to realise (or deliberately ignoring the fact) that information overload merely discourages the reader and therefore devalues the whole.

“Last year we explained how law firms reusing texts and broadening their templates over time would likely mean an increase in the number of cited patents, cases etc.”This isn’t intended to generally bash the patent system but merely to point out that there’s a real problem which needs tackling. To demonstrate just how bad it has gotten (overwhelming examiners for sure), IAM now speaks of an EPO patent application that is almost a thousand pages long (which reminds us of Microsoft’s bogus ‘standard’, OOMXL, with over 6,000 pages). What is this? A joke? One heck of a copy-paste job? “What is quite possibly the longest patent application ever submitted continues on its merry way to grant,” IAM wrote, saying that “Ericsson has recently received a positive international preliminary report on patentability from the European Patent Office on a PCT filing submitted last year that describes a detailed 5G architecture reading on a wide range of applications with varying requirements and characteristics. It purports to set out higher bandwidth, lower latency, better reliability, longer battery life and less interference than anything contained in the prior art.”

How is an examiner even supposed to assess such a thing? We heard similar stories from the USPTO (and covered these), but now we see this in Europe as well. Patents are not books (saturating the index/search results) and examiners oughtn’t be shy to reject patents based on length. Concision matters.

A Post-TC Heartland (and Post-Alice) Patent System is Bad if Not Fatal News to Patent Trolls Like Microsoft’s Intellectual Ventures

Saturday 9th of June 2018 05:27:22 PM

Intellectual Ventures is connected to some Texas-based 'offspring' trolls

Summary: The gold rush for patents on algorithms (disguised as “AI” or “blockchain” among other hype waves which are being popularised nowadays) and why it’s going to be a lot harder to enforce these in the courtrooms now that the Eastern District of Texas is ever more isolated (recent rulings which deny ‘forum shopping’ or litigation venue hopping)

THE USPTO is improving (quality of patents). Patent courts in the US are improving (standards/bars). Innovation carries on. Patent litigation is declining (we shall cover that separately).

“We are pleased to see the way things are going and we receive online abuse from the aforementioned types, who are very angry because they’re used to making money from lawsuits.”Go to all (or virtually any) of those sites that tell us patents of any kind encourage innovation (any patent, even patents on life or algorithms). Check the background of the author/those quoted. It’s almost always lawyers with law degrees, i.e. the nontechnical types who make money from patenting and litigation. Did innovation suffer/stop because the US became tougher on patents? No. There’s no evidence of it. Did law firms earn less money? Probably. But they never produced any innovation anyway.

We are pleased to see the way things are going and we receive online abuse from the aforementioned types, who are very angry because they’re used to making money from lawsuits. They lose sleep over what’s going on.

“The trolls are struggling and quite a few have gone out of ‘business’ (when we say business we mean suing and engaging in extortion, as they do nothing else).”This post will focus on patent trolls, especially those that are exploiting lenient courts and now find it difficult to access those. We’ve been seeing nothing but good news on this front, except perhaps in Europe, where Samsung has just been extorted by a European patent troll.

The patent trolls’ lobby (IAM) currently celebrates Sisvel’s latest blackmail. Joff Wild says this:

The deals come on the back of other recent positive developments for Sisvel, including US litigation settlements with LG Electronics and Buffalo, which saw both companies agree royalty-bearing licences to the same Wi-Fi patents that Samsung now has access to; and Columbia University joining the Wi-Fi licensing programme, the first Ivy League university to do so. The programme now has over 100 licensees.

Sisvel began life in 1982 as a joint venture between Italian TV set manufacturers and now operates out of offices in the US, Europe and Asia, through which it offers a variety of pooled rights covering technologies, including wireless, digital display and audio/video coding. Its portfolio runs to thousands of patents – both managed on behalf of others, such as Fraunhofer, KPN and Orange, and acquired – with well over 1,000 licences in place.

Techrights wrote about Sisvel dozens of times in the past. They’re like Europe’s patent Mafia (and they happen to be Italian too, so maybe there’s a source of inspiration from the Italian Mafia).

“…AI is just software and in very few places in the world will such patents have real value (except outside the courts).”In the US, however, things have changed. The trolls are struggling and quite a few have gone out of ‘business’ (when we say business we mean suing and engaging in extortion, as they do nothing else). We have given many examples and we shall continue to give more. Several days ago we wrote about Intellectual Ventures losing a lot of money — mostly money that had been invested in it by Microsoft. Intellectual Ventures lost a lot of staff — managers and executives included — and Ericsson hired from Intellectual Ventures not too long ago (seeking trolling expertise).

As we covered here last week (owing to Docket Navigator’s coverage), Ericsson and Intellectual Venture now have a patent dispute between them and earlier today Watchtroll said more:

Ericsson Inc. v. Intellectual Ventures I, LLC, No. 2016-1671, 2018 (Fed. Cir. May 29, 2018) (Before Prost, C.J., Newman, and Wallach, J.) (Opinion for the court, Newman, J.) (Dissenting opinion, Wallach, J.)

The ‘408 patent, owned by Intellectual Ventures I LLC (“IV”), covers a method of frequency hopping used in wireless systems in which a base station communicates with other entities on varying radio frequencies to reduce interference among communications. Ericsson petitioned for inter partes review of the ’408 patent, and the PTAB upheld its validity. Without separately analyzing the challenged dependent claims, the PTAB held that claim 1 was not anticipated or obvious. On appeal, the Federal Circuit reversed with respect to claim 1 and vacated and remanded as to the remaining claims.

We expect the Federal Circuit to relay this back after the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) found the patent ineligible. What will happen at the end? Well, in the meantime (amid all these court battles/motions) only the lawyers profit. Who loses? Both Intellectual Ventures and Ericsson, which itself feeds patent trolls and often acts like a troll itself.

“…patents on “AI” should therefore not be accepted (algorithms are abstract; they’re not patentable) and are not patent-eligible in the eyes of most courts worldwide.”In other news about Intellectual Ventures (Microsoft’s truly massive patent trolls network which likes to distribute its patents to thousands of other trolls), IAM indicates another gold rush for blockchain patents, i.e. software patents. An Intellectual Ventures ‘veterans’ is named:

The IP market officially has its first blockchain start-up. A group of executives with experience across patents and finance have launched a company called Operem, which will enable the tokenisation and trading of IP assets. Unveiling the new project exclusively to IAM, CEO Tim Londergan explained why his team believes the distributed ledger technology behind blockchain brings something radically new to the traditional IP exchange model.

[...]

Londergan, who spent eight years across several senior roles in Intellectual Ventures and more recently has been running a start-up incubator in Singapore, faces the challenge of building a business that combines two complex fields – IP and blockchain – which are often misunderstood by the uninitiated. But he thinks intellectual property, which Operem describes in a slide deck as “one of the last massively closed asset classes”, is ripe for disruption.

Remember that all of these patents are software patents. Mastercard too has been using the blockchain hype to disguise software patents as something patentable (courts would invalidate them). Here’s the latest on this:

Mastercard has won a patent for a travel itinerary system that uses a blockchain for a travel auction platform.

Consumers enter their planned itinerary and merchants submit bits for each request. The blockchain would connect travelers, travel agents, and other travel companies; along with a middle party that would vet the travel providers.The system could cut into travel providers’ marketing costs while making it easier for travelers to shop.

Mastercard is also pursuing patents for several other blockchain use cases, mostly with an eye on improving merchant and consumer navigation.

Over at a Japenese patents blog, Satoshi Watanabe takes note of so-called ‘FinTech’ patents (similar to the above) and starts by saying that “new technologies such as AI and IoT are progressing,” alluding to patents on these. Well, those are just buzzwords which are being exploted for bunk software patents (likely invalid). “As previously reported,” he wrote, “patent applications of business-related inventions have been on an increasing trend since 2011, and approximately 7,900 patent applications for business-related inventions were filed in 2016 (increase of 11.1% over the previous year), in spite of the downward trend in the number of domestic patent applications. Especially, patent applications in the financial sector (which should include FinTech) markedly increased in 2016 (increase of 40% over the previous year). The patent grant rate for business-related inventions is almost 70%. Therefore, many business-related patents have been generated in Japan.”

“Stop using meaningless old buzzwords to urge for patents on things that are clearly abstract.”Those are more like software patents, which are related in many ways to patents on business methods (both covered by Alice and to a lesser degree Bilski).

This new article relaying Withers & Rogers talking points (basically marketing for a law firm) speaks of an upcoming “event, which runs from 9-20 July 2018, featur[ing] patents in eight different categories from AI to software.”

Well, AI is just software and in very few places in the world will such patents have real value (except outside the courts). The “AI” buzzword is nowadays being promoted by the EPO and by IP Kat, which keeps painting software patents as “AI”, even as recently as a few days ago when it wrote: “DeepMind is a London based artificial intelligence (AI) research company, widely recognized as being at the forefront of the field. DeepMind was founded in 2010 and acquired by Google in 2014 for £400m. In 2017, DeepMind famously developed AI capable of defeating a world-champion at Go (Silver et al. Nature).”

The title of it was “DeepMind: First major AI patent filings revealed” and the sole comment says:

Just sounds like a company trying to pilfer all companies with patent trolls. All this will do is prevent AI from progressing because someone wants to make a $. AI should be banned from patent requests imo.

Well, it’s difficult to tell where these patents might end up. “AI” is just a vague term that applies to most algorithms; patents on “AI” should therefore not be accepted (algorithms are abstract; they’re not patentable) and are not patent-eligible in the eyes of most courts worldwide.

“In places like the Eastern District of Texas (E.D. Tex. or TXED) the judges might say “yes” to such patents, but not elsewhere.”Here goes another mindless tweet: “Should #AI created inventions be eligible for #patents? If so, the standards for what is considered patentable need to change…”

Stop using meaningless old buzzwords to urge for patents on things that are clearly abstract. In places like the Eastern District of Texas (E.D. Tex. or TXED) the judges might say “yes” to such patents, but not elsewhere. Therein lies the importance of TC Heartland, which very recently turned one.

“From “venue/forum shopping” we’ve meanwhile moved to “judge shopping”…”In an effort to keep abreast of TC Heartland and what goes on in the Eastern District of Texas we’ve found some interesting new developments. The court that is notorious for its patent trolls epidemic decided as follows: “The court granted defendant’s alternative motion to transfer for improper venue because defendant did not have a regular and established place of business in the district through its “necessary” distributor.”

This is basically another fight over interpretation of the Supreme Court’s ruling on TC Heartland. Quite a few such cases became public recently and Watchtroll wrote about one of them a couple of days ago:

In an opinion made public on May 9th, a federal judge in the Eastern District of Texas denied a motion to dismiss for improper venue. See Tinnus Enters. v. Telebrands Corp., Case No. 6:17-CV-00170-RWS (E.D. Tex. May 1, 2018). Notably, the Court in Tinnus found that a “regular and established place of business” can exist when a manufacturer or wholesaler leases a space within a brick-and-mortar retail store. Id. at 4-5.

District Judge Robert W. Schroeder supported the report and recommendation of Magistrate Judge John D. Love which found that defendant Telebrands consistently leases space with retailers in the district, creating ongoing, long-term relationships with those retailers. Id. at 4. Judge Schroder concluded that the defendant had crafted a regular and established place of business for patent venue purposes by holding out leased store space as their own, paying fees to construct the leased space, and controlling product placement, sales, and displays within that space. Id.

[...]

The Supreme Court’s recent decision in TC Heartland reset the definition of residency in § 1400(b), divorcing the patent venue statute’s construction from § 1391(c). TC Heartland LLC v. Kraft Foods Grp. Brands LLC, 137 S. Ct. 1514, 1520 (2017). In TC Heartland, the Supreme Court held that “residence” in § 1400(b) refers only to the state of incorporation, and further held that the expanded definition of “residence” in § 1391(c) was not intended to alter § 1400(b)’s construction of the term. Id.

As noted by Mark Deming yesterday, this is one among a “trio” of such cases: “The Federal Circuit issued a trio of decisions this month further clarifying the application of the patent venue statute in the post-TC Heartland era. The case specifics are: In re HTC Corporation, No. 2018-130 (May 9, 2018); In re ZTE (USA) Inc., No. 2018-113 (May 14, 2018); and In re BigCommerce, Inc., No. 2018-120 (May 15, 2018).”

“This means that companies like Microsoft, for instance, may struggle to float patent trolling (and selling ‘protection’) as a long-term business model.”From “venue/forum shopping” we’ve meanwhile moved to “judge shopping” — a practice which is considered rogue and regarded as serious misbehaviour based on the latest Docket Report:

Following a dismissal for failure to prosecute after six years of litigation, the court granted defendants’ motions for attorney fees under 35 U.S.C. § 285 because plaintiff’s litigation tactics were unreasonable.

This case, yet again, demonstrates that the attempts to pursue some particular judge or district are risky; these can now collapse or sink entire cases. The legacy of TC Heartland, including its ‘edge cases’ (like non-US companies), has aged pretty well. This means that companies like Microsoft, for instance, may struggle to float patent trolling (and selling ‘protection’) as a long-term business model. This is what Microsoft has been aiming for with “Azure IP Advantage” [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19].

Benoît Battistelli Should Have Received an Award for Corruption, But He Completely Controlled the Show in His Own Theatre

Saturday 9th of June 2018 01:46:44 PM

Battistelli has just ‘pulled a Henry Kissinger’

Summary: Having abused/misused diplomatic immunity for about 8 years, Benoît Battistelli now passes this immunity to his old friend (António Campinos) and arranges to receive an award in France, for fighting what they call “piracy”

THE king of EPO corruption is about to officially — at least on paper — finish his term, but not before he gets some 'royal' treatments in the unfinished Dutch branch. It’s pretty incredible what he got away with; like a true king, he’s demonstrably above the law and he’s never reluctant to break laws which he subjects others to. The USPTO, which is a federally-enshrined institution, operates differently, so staff does not enjoy the same sort of immunity (not even the chiefs).

“We wish to remind our readers that Battistelli’s immunity expires in a few weeks with no imminent role (anywhere) to expand this thug’s protection from the Rule of Law.”Speaking of immunity, remember what happened at EU-IPO. Caricatures like the above were made about it last year (and circulated inside the EPO).

Currently, the EU-IPO is all about António Campinos, who starts his job at the EPO in about 3 weeks, taking over from another Frenchman whom he knew for many years. He made the EU-IPO 'study' all about himself this past week (we’ve seen him explicitly mentioned in about 50 articles; here’s one in English) — a very Battistelli-like style of personification and self promotion.

We wish to remind our readers that Battistelli’s immunity expires in a few weeks with no imminent role (anywhere) to expand this thug’s protection from the Rule of Law. As for Campinos, he has enjoyed diplomatic immunity for a number of years and 5 years inside the EPO’s management team may mean that it will be impossible to sue him until 2023 (if not much later). Will he exploit such immunity the way Battistelli did? That remains to be seen. Can lawsuits be filed against monsters/mobsters like Battistelli for what he did whilst immune? We’re not lawyers (none of us), so we’re not sure about the scope and limits of diplomatic immunity; we urge EPO staff (past and present) to investigate this matter and consider action. Battistelli and his thugs were very eager to hire several law firms and legally bully me, knowing that they enjoyed disproportionate legal power because they’re resistant to prosecution and probably to subpoenas too.

“Battistelli and his thugs were very eager to hire several law firms and legally bully me, knowing that they enjoyed disproportionate legal power because they’re resistant to prosecution and probably to subpoenas too.”Battistelli won’t leave the Office without insulting everything and everyone associated with the Office. He already tarnishes any remnant of reputation, falsely believing that hiring not one but several PR agencies (external to the EPO itself) will help compensate for it. We’ve quietly and patiently observed puff pieces from “media partners” (as usual) and press releases over the past few days. We would rather not link to these but only point out that the EPO works again (just like last year) with Shepard Fox Communications. From one of the press releases (trying to appeal to the cause of feminism, emphasising an ethical aspect, at least a perceived one after that "diversity" ploy celebrated a day beforehand) we have extracted the role of Shepard Fox Communications, but from another press release we extract the following again:

UK media contact:
Barbara Geier
echolot pr
Tel: 0044 (0)7983 242 195
barbara@bconnects.net

We have mentioned her before [1, 2]; they’re literally writing some of the ‘articles’ (their name remains in the metadata).

Now, on to the event — the one that the EPO wastes a fortune on (European Inventor Award). It’s all about the ‘king’, who is presenting the show in his own theatre that he’s responsible for! From the EPO’s official account: “President Battistelli: “We are here to celebrate these inventors and I would like you to consider that all our nominees deserve our congratulations and out thanks” [] We wouldn’t have been able to produce this shortlist of impressive nominees without our international jury, says President Battistelli. [] President Battistelli officially opens the Ceremony: “I would like to offer you a very warm welcome to the European Inventor Award 2018”…”

So the star of the show is — as usual — the ‘king’ himself.

“…they’re [PR firms] literally writing some of the ‘articles’ (their name remains in the metadata).”Here’s what the EPO wrote at the end (warning: epo.org link), after about 60 (re/)tweets that day. Yes, this charade of Battistelli is all about Battistelli himself. He pays not a dime for it (not his own anyway) and gains financially from it, as do his colleagues in France. We prefer not to heckle scientists who were there, e.g. to accept prizes (they’re not part of the abuse and some may not even be aware of how they’re being used for a money-passing ‘cover’). We prefer not to name them or give ‘free’ publicity to this terrible festival, which Battistelli celebrates for his own personal interests.

Call it laughable or call it outrageous, but crooked Battistelli is ‘giving’ a bogus award to himself on the same day that he loots the EPO (the ‘crime’). We believe that crooks like him and Sarkozy would get away with murder, albeit what happens after he loses his immunity remains to be seen (Sarkozy got arrested some months ago, well after he was leader of France). The award of Battistelli was “presented to him in Paris,” according to the EPO (warning: epo.org link). It looks like a prearranged and staged ceremony, wherein “Global Anti-Counterfeiting Group” (we never heard of it before!) was trying to frame a likely criminal as an anti-crime person. It’s like that Nobel peace prize granted to Henry Kissinger. It took decades for the Nobel ‘franchise’ to recover from that (if it ever recovered at all). Battistelli is trying to legitimise himself while he’s engaging in serious corruption in the theatre which he manages. Yes, published “7 June 2018″ (same day as European Inventor Award) and also in France:

The Global Anti-Counterfeiting Group (GACG) today honoured EPO President Benoît Battistelli with a special award for his services to intellectual property. The 2018 prize in the individual achievement category was presented to him in Paris on the occasion of an Awards ceremony celebrating the World Anti-Counterfeiting Day- which recognises national and international efforts to curb counterfeiting and piracy.

“Marking their 20th year, the GACG Awards were held at the Museé de Contrefaçon, housed at the Headquarters of the Union des Fabricants (UNIFAB),” it says. So they didn’t even exist until the late nineties and we never ever heard of them before. Sounds dodgy or what?

“Even the Oscars don’t reach these levels of corruption,” I told this person, who laughably enough wrote (to soon be retweeted by the EPO):

European Inventor Award 2018 – think the Oscars for Patents – EPO put on an incredible program. Block out your calendar for this in 2019. @aipla @EPOorg #inventoraward pic.twitter.com/OiK9TnSrAt

Oscars?!

Got to be joking! It’s not even remotely comparable. The Oscars are watched by hundreds of millions worldwide. How many people tuned in for European Inventor Award? Several thousands on a live feed?

“…this scheme will soon be managed by a former banker, whose employer (the bank) is notorious for corruption. How’s that for EPO hope or optimism?”What the European Inventor Awards are nowadays stigmatised for (past and present) is fraud, scams, and corruption. This is Battistelli’s legacy. He kept placing them in France, in spite of the long tradition of hosting in the EU Presidency’s nation, and he ended up landing the event in the theatre that he’s managing.

Märpel has just brought up the word “corruption” in relation to the lack of accountability at the EPO. To quote:

After the last article, some people approached Märpel with questions. The word “corruption” was used.

Märpel would like to point out that she did not use that word.

Let us just say that there are many ways to win people to one’s cause but that it is always much easier when they believe that your cause is also theirs. Mr. Petrović was always convinced that this cause was just.

[...]

Märpel believes that this is exactly what happened at the EPO. President Battistelli saw the opportunity to seize power and turned the organisation to a ghost of its former self: it does not fulfil its mission of examining patents any more, it is haemorrhaging staff, its financial assets have been seized by what could be a Ponzi scheme (over 2 billions Euros). All what was needed was complacency from the judiciary.

What Märpel refers to as “Ponzi scheme” was recently covered by Märpel. Well, this scheme will soon be managed by a former banker, whose employer (the bank) is notorious for corruption. How’s that for EPO hope or optimism?

Battistelli is Still Patently Delusional About the Unitary Patent (UPC)

Saturday 9th of June 2018 12:22:00 PM

But no more delusional than Team UPC

Summary: The world — or the parallel universe — of Team UPC (they even call themselves that, with terms like “German Team UPC”) is about as delusional as EPO management that’s facilitating and enabling them, in effect trampling over European patent law, national constitutions and public input/interest

A VERY loud minority, including few pharmaceutical behemoths, strive to patent nature and life. They want a monopoly on food, medicine, treatments etc. They strive to easily enforce or assert this monopoly worldwide. They’re represented by selected law firms, which lobby — among other things — for the UPC.

“They even delete comments that are critical of the UPC.”A couple of days ago we saw "Kluwer Patent blogger" (likely Bristows) writing in the UPC boosters’ blog about unitary SPCs, which are of interest to pharmaceutical/medical giants. It sounds just like Bristows (they echo similar positions at IP Kat) and the EPO would no doubt be pleased to see what Kluwer Patent Blow, IP Kat and other blogs have turned into. They even delete comments that are critical of the UPC. Following the EPO’s worst traditions (Battistelli and his flunkies censor even true statements). Team UPC (as shown at the top) is trying to float rumours that it does not even have; the original poster, who habitually uses the term “Team UPC”, is among those who censor views that are hostile towards the UPC. Given the antidemocratic nature of the entire UPC/A process, at least they’re consistent (consistently intolerant of plurality of views).

Thorsten Bausch responded calmly: “The latest rumor that I heard is that the Rapporteur Prof. Huber has meanwhile „ordered the files“. Whatever this may mean… Procedurally, the big question is whether the UPC case will be handled in conjunction with the EPO cases or separately.”

“EPO abuses are still ongoing and they’re part of the constitutional complaint.”This can take years. EPO abuses are still ongoing and they’re part of the constitutional complaint. They’re an integral part of it. Team UPC is just desperately trying to seed doubt or misinformation about this complaint, hoping to bias the outcome (insinuating that FCC judges are only being a ‘nuisance’ and a ‘spurious barrier’ amidst an inevitable and trivial outcome, supposedly hindering public/greater good). Even ad hominem attacks (against the complainant) have already been attempted, all in vain of course. They mostly attempted to question the motivations.

A “media partner”of the EPO meanwhile wrote (also 2 days ago): “Benoit Battistelli, President of the EPO, leaves office in a few weeks. His legacy, he says, is a European Unified Patent.”

No, it pretty much COLLAPSED! The puff piece from this “media partner” of the EPO will be the subject of our next post, in which we try not to give any ‘free’ promotion to the event or name/shame people who won awards (other than Battistelli himself!!!).

Patents on Nature, Life and the Environment: Lessons From EPO and Australian Courts

Saturday 9th of June 2018 11:35:47 AM

Monopoly does not solve issues; especially when granted on things that always existed

Summary: The subject of patent scope revisited in light of news and views about patents “on life” (typically DNA, genetics, plants, seeds, animals); we focus on Europe and on Australia, which is known for CSIRO’s controversial patent-related activities

THERE are different types of people in the patent “profession” (or domain), ranging from examiners to litigators. There are also different mindsets, ranging from patent rationalists to patent extremists, where the extreme views pertain to patent scope, litigation zeal, and sometimes boil down to fundamental hatred of science and technology (that’s what sites such as Watchtroll stand for).

“It’s important that — in order to avoid protest if not revolt from the public — patent law should be restricted or confined to public interest.”We don’t want to generalise and we also recognise that many people read this site because they want to read alternative viewpoints, recognising that Techrights is not against patents but pro-patent reason. It’s important that — in order to avoid protest if not revolt from the public — patent law should be restricted or confined to public interest. It should adhere to common sense, economic models, and scientists’ interests, not law firms’ interests. Lawyers should ideally be there to help the scientists, not just to help themselves. In practice, however, this rarely happens, as we shall explain in our next post (about UPC).

“Lawyers should ideally be there to help the scientists, not just to help themselves.”Hogwash from Joanna Rowley (Haseltine Lake, LLP) came just before the weekend, both in their Web site and others (throwing copies elsewhere), titled “World Environment Day – How patents are saving our environment”.

They’re piggypacking “World Environment Day” for self promotion. Giving people a monopoly on how to improve things actually harms, prevents solutions from being implemented. We wrote this many times before in response to greenwashing of patents by EPO management. There’s also the class of patents which pertains to nature and life; those are even more problematic.

EPO insiders are generally aware of the limits of patenting and why these limits are needed. “Stop patents on life,” one of them told us the other day, is something we “might be interested in.” The insider linked to “Patente auf Leben stoppen!” (in German). We wrote about this subject many times before, since more than a decade ago. So did many patent critics like Kinsella, whose latest episode is titled “Nothing Exempt”. Kinsella is one of those former and disgruntled insiders, who nowadays advocates even abolition of so-called ‘IP’. He’s pretty high-profile a voice and we assume many of our readers are already familiar with his work (we covered that many years ago).

“This was a subject of much/great debate earlier this year when oppositions folks at the EPO denied a CRISPR patent, overturning some prior decisions (by extension at least).”That brings us to some news from Australia’s top court. As should be obvious, at the very least based on the “Australia” section of our “Software Patents Around the World” page, we are mostly interested in Australia because of its software patents stance/policy. On few occasions we wrote about Australian patents on life itself, as ‘championed’ by CSIRO in Australia. This was a subject of much/great debate earlier this year when oppositions folks at the EPO denied a CRISPR patent, overturning some prior decisions (by extension at least). People and firms have begun questioning whether it’s even worth pursuing patents on DNA/genetics in Europe anymore.

A new article by Michael Zammit and Scott Philp (from the software patents booster, Shelston IP) speaks of “strategic use and management in the resources sector” (in relation to patents). Another new article by Kazumasa Watanabe, Anthony Muratore and Stephanie W. Wang (Jones Day) has just been plugged into Mondaq, taking note of a new case at the High Court of Australia. Background and conclusion/outcome/closing words below:

Pfizer manufactures and supplies the biological medicine Enbrel (etanercept), used in the treatment of autoimmune diseases. Pfizer brought an application pursuant to rule 7.23 of the Federal Court Rules 2011 for preliminary discovery of certain SB confidential documents that Pfizer believed would enable it to decide whether or not to commence proceedings for patent infringement against SB. The patents in suit concerned processes relating to one of the phases in the development of biological medicines.

[...]

On appeal, the Full Court allowed Pfizer’s appeal: Pfizer Ireland Pharmaceuticals v Samsung Bioepis AU Pty Ltd [2017] FCAFC 193, holding that preliminary discovery applications are not intended to be mini-trials. The essence of rule 7.23 focuses on what “may” be the position. The foundation of any application is that the prospective applicant reasonably believes that it may have a right to relief; that is, the belief must be reasonable and about something that “may be”, not “is”, the case.

In practice, to defeat such a claim, it will be necessary either to show that the subjectively held belief does not exist or, if it does, there is no reasonable basis for thinking that there may be such a case. Showing that some aspect of the material on which the belief is based is contestable, or even arguably wrong, will rarely come close to making good such a contention. Many views may be held with which others disagree, but that does not make the views necessarily unreasonably held.

Therefore, the relevant question was not whether one scientific view was more or less persuasive than another but, rather, whether Dr Ibarra’s views so lacked foundation that Mr Silvestri’s reliance on them did not demonstrate that he reasonably believed that Pfizer may have a right to obtain relief. As Dr Ibarra’s views were not criticised as ones that could not reasonably be held by anyone in her position, this question was answered in the negative.

In its special leave application to the High Court, SB argued, inter alia, that the Full Court shifted focus away from an objective assessment of the facts as to whether a reasonable basis was provided for the prospective applicant believing it may have the right to relief to an assessment of the subjective state of mind of the particular deponents who asserted the relevant belief. However, the High Court was not persuaded to grant special leave to appeal.

The Australian system (especially the legal system) follows the structures and standards of the old English system and is heavily inspired by the US. When it comes to patents, there’s not much difference either. We are glad to see that software patents are on their death throes in Australia and hope that the same will happen to patents on nature/life. Those aren’t the sorts of ‘inventions’ the patent system’s founders had in mind at this system’s inception time.

Links 8/6/2018: Chrome 68 Beta and PHP 7.3 Alpha

Friday 8th of June 2018 08:44:40 PM

Contents GNU/Linux Free Software/Open Source
  • 7 open source VPN tools for businesses

    In recent months, many popular online security and VPN vendors have come under fire after unaddressed vulnerabilities in their products left users open to serious threats.

    In early February, the Software Engineering Institute at Carnegie Mellon University posted an advisory warning stating that the Pulse Secure VPN graphic user interface failed to validate SSL certificates when connecting to websites. This left enterprise-level clients open to man-in-the-middle (and other) attacks. While the SSL validation problem has been resolved for Pulse 5.3R4.2 and Pulse 5.2R9, the Carnegie Mellon researchers still warn against using it on untrusted networks.

  • Five Free Open Source Testing Tools You Can Trust

    ree open source testing tools have never been more popular, necessary or front of mind. Recent news coverage of the open source Kayenta suite of canary testing tools launched by Google and Netflix not only demonstrates that industry has an increasing appetite for automated testing, but also that the need for such tools is far more widely accepted.

    There are a few major pitfalls for the unwary when choosing open source testing tools, perhaps the most important being to be clear about is the difference between ‘free’ tools and open source tools, a distinction that often gets muddied. Indeed, there are legions of ‘free’ tools that are not truly open source, which can be an unwelcome discovery – too late – if not checked carefully first.

  • SD Times Open-Source Project of the Week: Vue Vixens

    A new program, project and community was launched this year with a mission to introduce women to the open-source JavaScript framework Vue. While there are a variety of framework communities for women in the programming industry such as Django Girls, Rails Bridge, and ng-Girls, Jen Looper, developer advocate at Progress, saw a lack of community in the Vue.js space. Out of that lack of community, Vue Vixens was born.

  • OSI Welcoming Software Heritage
  • Google Open Sources Real-Time Visualisation Library Developed by Intern

    Google yesterday open sourced an improved algorithm for tSNE (a machine learning algorithm for data visualisation), developed by an intern, for its acclaimed machine learning framework Tensorflow, enabling interactive visual experiences when working with large datasets.

    The tech giant posted on its Google Plus page for ‘Google AI’: “Some new research from an intern in our Zürich office shows an approach to tSNE that allows real-time interactive visualization of large, high-dimensional datasets by leveraging GPU capabilities through WebGL. Oh, and it’s open source too! Check it out”.

  • Web Browsers
    • Chrome
      • Chrome 68 Beta: add to home screen, payment handler, page lifecycle

        Unless otherwise noted, changes described below apply to the newest Chrome Beta channel release for Android, Chrome OS, Linux, macOS, and Windows. View a complete list of the features in Chrome 68 on ChromeStatus.com. Chrome 68 is beta as of June 7, 2018.

      • Chrome 68 Rolls Out In Beta Form

        For those not satisfied by last week’s Chrome 67 stable release, Chrome 68 is now available in beta form with the latest and greatest feature work.

    • Mozilla
      • @media, MathML, and Django 1.11: MDN Changelog for May 2018
      • What is Standup?

        Standup is a system for capturing standup-style posts from individuals making it easier to see what’s going on for teams and projects. It has an associated IRC bot standups for posting messages from IRC.

      • Paris, Munich, & Dresden: Help Us Give the Web a Voice!

        In July, our Voice Assistant Team will be in France and Germany to explore trust and technology adoption. We’re particularly interested in how people use voice assistants and how people listen to content like Pocket and podcasts. We would like to learn more how you use technology and how a voice assistant or voice user interface (VUIs) could improve your Internet and open web experiences. We will be conducting a series of in-home interviews and participatory design sessions. No prior voice assistant experience needed!

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)
  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC
    • Intel MPX Support Removed From GCC 9

      Support for Intel Memory Protection Extensions (MPX) is now pretty much dead on Linux.

      As a follow-up to the article in April of GCC looking to remove MPX support from their compiler with Intel no longer maintaining that portion of the code and MPX being deprecated already, today the commit went in deleting all of the MPX support in GCC.

    • How to defend your encrypted emails against prying eyes

      In May, a draft technical paper published at efail.de recommended that people stop using GPG plugins to encrypt their email. At the same time, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) raised the alarm about seemingly new vulnerabilities in GPG (GNU Privacy Guard), echoing the paper’s cautionary recommendations. Others further reduced this recommendation to a simple shorthand: stop encrypting your email, because it isn’t safe. (EFF has since modified its recommendations, depending on the mail client and GPG plugin you use, and with caveats that match some of the suggestions we’ll make here.)

      Much of this information isn’t new. The issue isn’t a flaw in GPG, and there is no need to panic or discontinue using GPG, including for signing emails or for encrypting and decrypting files outside of your email client. Here are the facts:

      The EFAIL paper describes several methods of attack: “EFAIL abuses active content of HTML emails, for example externally loaded images or styles, to exfiltrate plaintext through requested URLs.” The attacker accesses the encrypted emails, “by eavesdropping on network traffic, compromising email accounts, email servers, backup systems or client computers. The emails could even have been collected years ago.” The attacker changes the encrypted email, sends it to the recipient, and if the recipient’s mail client decrypts that message and automatically loads any external content, or users click on HTML links, the plaintext of the email is visible to the attacker.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration
    • Interview: Roger Uceda, BCN3D Technologies, ‘being in an open source community multiplies your efforts exponentially’

      Our series to celebrate the 10th Anniversary of RepRap continues with 3D printing insights from BCN3D Technologies.

      Roger Uceda is the founder of BCN3D Technologies, a division of the non-profit CIM-UPC foundation. In 2010, work began on developing a 3D printer at the research lab of the Barcelona Tech university, this project would later grow into the venture known as BCN3D Technologies.

      BCN3D has continued to adhere to Open Source principals by publishing design files for their 3D printers, most recently the BCN3D Sigmax. In this article Roger Uceda gives insights into the beginnings of BCN3D and the benefits of Open Source.

  • Programming/Development
    • How Did GitLab Scale Up for the Slashdot Effect? Point and Click
    • pinp 0.0.5: Accomodate pandoc 2.*

      Another maintenance release of our pinp package for snazzier one or two column vignettes is getting onto CRAN right now.

    • PHP 7.3.0 alpha 1 Released

      PHP team is glad to announce the release of the first PHP 7.3.0 version, PHP 7.3.0 Alpha 1. This starts the PHP 7.3 release cycle, the rough outline of which is specified in the PHP Wiki.

    • PHP 7.3 Alpha Released With New Features

      F
      PHP 7.3 Alpha 1 is available today as the PHP developers kick off their next release cycle for getting this next version of PHP7 out by the end of 2018.

      PHP developers plan on at least three alphas and three betas to get through August and then at least six release candidates happening every two weeks. After that all happens, PHP developers feel PHP 7.3.0 should be ready for release by the end of November.

Leftovers
  • Science
    • Elsevier CiteScore™ missing the top conference in data mining

      It’s really time to abandon Elsevier. German universities canceled their subscriptions. Sweden apparently began now to do so, too. Because Elsevier (and to a lesser extend, other publishers) overcharge universities badly.

      Meanwhile, Elsevier still struggles to pretend it offers additional value. For example with the ‘‘horribly incomplete’’ Scopus database. For computer science, Scopus etc. are outright useless.

      Elsevier just advertised (spammed) their “CiteScore™ metrics”. “Establishing a new standard for measuring serial citation impact”. Not.

      “Powered by Scopus, CiteScore metrics are a comprehensive, current, transparent and “ horribly incomplete for computer science.

      [...]

      Time to move to open-access, and away from overpriced publishers. If you want your paper to be read and cited, publish open-access and not with expensive walled gardens like Elsevier.

  • Hardware
  • Health/Nutrition
    • Where Is “Home” for Children in State Custody?

      Many of us have distinct memories of our own childhood homes. That’s not the case for hundreds of children trapped in Illinois psychiatric hospitals.

    • Know the Signs of Suicide, Save a Life

      “Suicide doesn’t end the chances of life getting worse, it eliminates the possibility of it ever getting any better.”

      I’m sure everyone has seen this quote (source unknown) before, but to anyone who has dealt with losing someone to suicide, it’s a hard truth. It’s not only hard to accept it as truth, but it’s hard to think about the fact that your lost loved one was to a point in their life when they felt like this was the only answer—that there was no way it would ever get better. It’s rough.

    • Celltrion, Inc. v. Genentech, Inc. (N.D. Cal. 2018)

      Last month, in Celltrion, Inc. v. Genentech, Inc., District Judge Jeffrey S. White of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California granted two motions to dismiss filed by Defendants Genentech, Inc.; Hoffman La-Roche, Inc.; and City of Hope (“Genentech”), which sought to dismiss the first amended complaint filed by Plaintiffs Celltrion, Inc.; Celltrion Healthcare, Co. Ltd.; Teva Pharmaceuticals International GMGH; and Teva Pharmaceuticals USA, Inc. (“Celltrion”). Celltrion had initiated the dispute between the parties by filing complaints for declaratory judgment with respect to patents related to Genentech’s Herceptin and Rituxan biologic drugs.

      Both of the cases involve the Biologics Price Competition and Innovation Act of 2009 (“BPCIA”), which provides a regulatory approval pathway for biosimilar drugs. Under the BPCIA, a biologic licensed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is known as a reference product, and the entity that manufactures the reference product is known as the reference product sponsor (“RPS”). An entity that wishes to manufacture a biosimilar drug — the biosimilar applicant (BA) — may apply to the FDA for approval, and upon a showing that there are no “clinically meaningful differences” between the biosimilar drug and the biologic drug, can procure FDA approval for the biosimilar drug.

      [...]

      Celltrion’s final argument was that the notices of commercial marketing it served for Herzuma and Truxima enabled it to file the declaratory judgment actions regardless of its compliance with other portions of the BPCIA. In particular, Celltrion contended that because a notice of commercial marketing lifts the ban on declaratory judgment actions described in § 262(l)(9)(A), a notice of commercial marketing should also lift §§ 262(l)(9)(B) and (C)’s prohibitions. The District Court, however, pointed out that the Central District of California had recently considered and rejected a similar argument in Amgen v. Genentech, Inc., 17-cv-7349-GHW, 2018 WL 910198 (C.D. Cal. Jan. 11, 2018). The Court reiterated that “a notice of commercial marketing only opens the door for an applicant to file a declaratory judgment action if the applicant complies with the rest of the statute.”

    • Court refuses injunctions in pharma patent case

      A judge has refused to grant injunctions restraining a Co Galway-based pharmaceutical company from acting in alleged infringement of patent by making a generic drug here for supply to multiple sclerosis patients in the US.

      Israeli-incorporated Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd sought the orders pending the outcome of its proceedings initiated in the Commercial Court last year against Mylan Teoranta, trading as Mylan Institutional, which employs more than 1,000 people in Dublin, Meath and Galway.

      Yeda Research and Development Company Ltd, also incorporated in Israel, is registered owner of the patent at issue and has granted an exclusive licence in respect of it to Teva. Yeda was joined as a co-defendant to the case to address a technical objection made by Mylan.

  • Security
    • Security updates for Friday
    • 92 million MyHeritage users had their data quietly swiped

      Email addresses and hashed passwords of more than 92 million MyHeritage users were exposed in a cybersecurity breach on October 26, 2017, the popular genealogy company reported Monday, June 4, 2018.

    • Global Russian-Linked Router Malware Even Worse Than Originally Stated

      Late last month, the FBI announced that hackers working for the Russian government had managed to infect roughly 500,000 routers in 54 countries with a particularly-nasty piece of malware known as VPN Filter. The malware, which infected routers from vendors like Linksys, MikroTik, Netgear, TP-Link, and certain network-attached storage devices from companies like QNAP, gave attackers the ability to track a victim’s internet usage, launch attacks on other networks, and permanently destroy the devices upon command.

    • LinuxForums.org Hack Exposes 276,000 User Accounts

      LinuxForums.org is a free help and support forum for Linux distributions software, and computer hardware, which currently hosts more than 200,000 registered members. The website was launched back in 2001, and in 2008 it changed ownership, now being owned by MAS Media Inc.

      The LinuxForums.org data breach is a consequence of the forums using an old version of vBulletin (version 4.2.2, released back in October 2013), a proprietary Internet forum software. Along with the 276k unique email addresses, usernames, IP addresses and salted MD5 password hashes were also leaked. Using salted MD5 password hashes is a bad idea because… well, MD5 is very fast, so an attacker can try billions of password combinations per second.

    • Change your linuxforums dot org passwords
  • Defence/Aggression
  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting
    • Cambridge Analytica Ex-Official Denies Channeling Money to WikiLeaks – Reports

      Brittany Kaiser, the former business development director at the UK Cambridge Analytica consultancy, has denied reports that she channeled donations from third parties to WikiLeaks, after the media revealed that she visited the organization’s founder, Julian Assange, last year, The Guardian reported on Thursday.

      Earlier in the week, The Guardian newspaper said that it had obtained the visitor logs from Ecuador’s Embassy in London, where Assange is currently residing, which reveal that the former Cambridge Analytica executive visited Assange on February 17 last year and discussed the US elections with him. The media also claimed that Kaiser allegedly received money in the form of “gifts and payments” and channeled it as cryptocurrency to WikiLeaks, which she had called her “favorite charity.”

    • Why Did a Cambridge Analytica Executive Meet with Julian Assange?

      The first threads of a relationship between Robert Mercer-backed data-analytics firm Cambridge Analytica and WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange emerged in October, when reports surfaced that Alexander Nix, Cambridge Analytica’s former C.E.O., had reached out to Assange in 2016, allegedly to offer to help him distribute the 33,000 e-mails stolen from Hillary Clinton’s infamous server. At the time, Assange confirmed the outreach but said it was rejected by WikiLeaks. In an appearance before U.K. lawmakers in February, Nix played the whole thing down, saying he’d simply found contact information for WikiLeaks online and sent Assange a cold e-mail. But on Thursday, a Guardian report suggested that the web between the two organizations—both of which have drawn Robert Mueller’s attention as he seeks to determine the extent of the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia—may be more extensive than either has acknowledged.

    • Officials visit WikiLeaks’ founder Julian Assange for the first time

      WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has been visited by officials from the Australian High Commission.

      Two officials went to the Ecuadorian embassy in London where Assange has been living for almost six years.

      His internet and phone connections were cut off by the Ecuadorian government six weeks ago and he was denied visitors.

    • Aust officials pay visit Julian Assange
    • Australian officials pay visit to Julian Assange
    • Pamela Anderson Defends Russia and Julian Assange: ‘I’ve Spoken at the Kremlin Many Times’
    • Pamela Anderson boasts that she has spoken at the Kremlin ‘many times’ as she defends Putin and Julian Assange in bizarre Fox News interview
    • Pamela Anderson Says Trump Should Pardon Julian Assange Next
    • Pamela Anderson on Julian Assange: ‘He’s a very brave person’
    • Pamela Anderson defends Julian Assange: ‘A great testament to the human spirit’
    • Why Bringing Assange Home Would Be The Best Possible Thing For Australia

      According to a new report by the Sydney Morning Herald, officials from Australia’s High Commission have just been spotted leaving the Ecuadorian embassy in London, accompanied by Julian Assange’s lawyer Jennifer Robinson. Robinson confirmed that a meeting had taken place, but declined to say what it was about “given the delicate diplomatic situation.”

      So, forgive me if I squee a bit. I am aware how subservient Australia has historically been to US interests, I am aware that those US interests entail the arrest of Assange and the destruction of WikiLeaks, and I am aware that things don’t often work out against the interests of the US-centralized empire. But there is a glimmer of hope now, coming from a direction we’ve never seen before. A certain southerly direction.

    • Ecuador Continues Playing Hardball With Assange

      On Monday Ecuadorian Foreign Minister María Fernanda Espinosa was elected to a one-year term as president of the United Nations General Assembly. On Tuesday she declared that her government would continue blocking WikiLeaks editor Julian Assange from all communications and deny him any personal visitors. On Wednesday it became 10 weeks since Ecuador’s government deprived Assange of his rights, which it is obliged to honor after granting him political asylum in its London embassy in 2012.

      The General Assembly vote in support of Espinosa was a substantial: 128 votes for 62 votes for the other nominee, Honduras’s UN ambassador, Mary Elizabeth Flores Flake. There were two abstentions. Washington was believed to favor Honduras because its right-wing government supported the provocative relocation of the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem. After the vote, Espinosa again hinted that Ecuador is working to force Assange out of the embassy into the clutches of waiting police and the prospect of extradition to the United States on charges of espionage. She stated she was in discussion with both British authorities and Assange’s lawyers. “I think all parties are interested in finding an outlet, a solution, to this complex situation,” she declared.

      [...]

      It appears Assange is being used as a bargaining chip in sordid negotiations between the U.S. and Ecuador. On June 4, U.S. Vice President Mike Pence met Moreno. Amid the stepped-up persecution of Assange, Pence issued a statement lauding their discussion on “opportunities to reinvigorate the bilateral relationship” between the two countries. In words dripping with what sounded like imperialist deceit, Pence said the two countries would work together “to protect and promote freedom” and “build prosperity, security and democracy.”

      [...]

      UN Body Called for His Release

      After years of delay, in late 2016 the Swedish police and prosecutors agreed to Assange’s repeated offer to be “questioned” in London. It belatedly took this action after a December 2015 ruling by the UN Working Party on Arbitrary Detentions.

      That ruling stated: “The Working Group considered that Mr. Assange has been subjected to different forms of deprivation of liberty… detention was arbitrary because he was held in isolation during the first stage of detention and because of the lack of diligence by the Swedish Prosecutor in its investigations, which resulted in the lengthy detention of Mr. Assange.”

      The ruling concluded: “The Working Group also considered that the detention should be brought to an end and that Mr. Assange should be afforded the right to compensation.”

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature
    • Northern Exposure: Alaska, Climate Change, Indigenous Rights, and Atmospheric Trust Litigation

      This chapter considers the atmospheric trust litigation in the case of Nelson Kanuk v. State of Alaska over the climate inaction of the State of the Alaska. The dispute is a compelling case study in respect of constitutional law, the public trust doctrine, climate change, intergenerational justice, Indigenous rights, and Indigenous intellectual property. The new litigation between Esau Sinnok and the State of Alaska promises to further refine and clarify issues in respect of climate change, human rights, and Indigenous interests. Such climate litigation highlights larger international legal issues in respect of Indigenous peoples and climate change. There has been debate over Indigenous rights and climate change during the discussions in respect of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples 2007, the Anchorage Declaration 2009, the Paris Agreement 2015, and the Bonn climate talks in 2017. In the future, no doubt Indigenous communities will seek to engage in climate litigation against governments and corporations in order to seek redress for climate injustice, as well as loss and damage.

  • Finance
    • Tariff increases could bring us back to 2008 crisis levels, World Bank warns

      A ramp-up in the pace and scope of tariffs could set the world back to 2008 in terms of global trade levels, the World Bank has warned.

      In its latest Global Economic Prospects report, published Tuesday, the multinational finance organization had a grim forecast for both emerging and developed markets in the event that the commercial disputes underway between major economies intensifies.

      “A broad-based increase in tariffs worldwide would have major adverse consequences for global trade and activity,” the report said. “An escalation of tariffs up to legally-allowed bound rates could translate into a decline in global trade flows amounting to 9 percent, similar to the drop seen during the global financial crisis in 2008-09.”

  • Censorship/Free Speech
    • Unpublished Censorship Guidelines Lay Bare The Deepest Fears Of The Chinese Government

      In any case, experts seem to accept that it represents the Chinese government’s position quite well, which makes the insights it gives into official thinking extremely valuable. Forbidden activities include many that come as no surprise, such as: insulting leaders, criticizing official policies, spreading information about “made-up” accidents, epidemics, police incidents, and issues related to the economy. Celebrities are protected to a certain extent, with a ban on over-the-top stories about their sex scandals or luxurious lifestyles.

      [...]

      It’s a great point that explains much of what the Chinese government has done over the last few years. What the authorities fear above all else is not so much any of the topics mentioned above in themselves, but the thought that they might help people to band together, and even formulate an idea that is truly frightening for Beijing: that they could start to resist.

    • Revenge Porn Dude Craig Brittain Files Hilariously Bad Lawsuit Against Twitter

      Ah, Craig Brittain is back. Never quite satisfied to recognize that after the FTC sanctioned him, his name is the equivalent of Pustule Nickelback McHitler II, he’s continued to lead his life of ridiculousness online, alternating between declaring himself a free speech hero and pushing to censor all his critics. And let us not forget his Senate campaign race in Arizona, which seemed to focus on Brittain’s strategy of insulting lots of people while declaring it was obvious he was going to win. That went so well that at the end of May it was revealed that he failed to get enough signatures and thus is not on the ballot.

      Apparently having some extra free time on his schedule, he has sued Twitter, pro se of course. It’s a fun read, and extra amusing as it comes just days after Chuck Johnson’s lawsuit against Twitter on sorta similar grounds was tentatively tossed out of court. At least Johnson had an actual lawyer file his suit. Brittain’s lawsuit, of course, cites the Packingham decision that a bunch of people have been misrepresenting to claim that it says social media can be considered a public forum. Brittain combines his misrepresentation of that opinion with a misrepresentation of the recent decision that President Trump cannot block followers, in order to claim that Twitter can’t kick off any political candidate.

    • Valve Decides To Get Out Of The Curation Business When It Comes To ‘Offensive’ Games

      As we’ve said in the past, Valve has always had a tricky line to walk with it’s Steam platform, having to straddle the needs of both the gamers that use the service and the game developers that make it worthwhile. Frankly, it’s walked this line fairly well for the most part. The platform, which was always popular, has exploded as the place to release a new game title online. As we noted way back in ye olde 2016, this popularity has also presented a problem for Steam: saturation. There are now simply so many games available on the platform that blindly wading into it and expecting to find new content you didn’t know you wanted is a dicey proposition at best. More content is an undeniably good thing, but it would be silly to suggest that the deluge of new games released in the past few years hasn’t also had a deleterious effect on the usability of the platform.

      Our solution? It won’t surprise you. We advocated that Steam empower the gamers that use it to act as curators. If done properly, this would allow an ecosystem of trusted advisers among gamers that share interests to tell them which titles they should be looking at. To that end, Steam subsequently employed a curators program within the platform that attempted to build exactly this ecosystem. To date, it’s been mediocre at best.

  • Privacy/Surveillance
    • Continental Calls for Road Traffic’s “Vision Zero” to also Apply to Data Traffic

      Data protection deficiencies: Continental prohibits use of WhatsApp and Snapchat with immediate effect

    • Why the EU should dismantle Facebook

      Some analysts even project that, before long, Facebook will hold more data on its users than any government. Meanwhile, it makes a lot of money from this data. Its advertising revenues came up to around US$40 billion in 2017 (up 50% from 2016). With Google, it holds an 84% market share in online advertising.

    • Facebook bug set 14 million users’ sharing settings to public

      The bug, which affected those users from May 18 to May 22, occurred while Facebook was testing a new feature.

      After Facebook employees discovered the bug, the company went back and changed the privacy settings for all posts shared by those 14 million users during that time.

      Facebook changed every post by those users during the affected time period to private, including posts that people may have meant to share publicly. The company told CNN it took five days to make those changes.

    • Facebook Bug Sets 14 Million Users’ Private Posts Public

      For a period of four days in May, 14 million Facebook users had their default sharing setting for all new posts set to public, the company announced on Thursday.

      CNN reports affected users will “see a message from Facebook urging users to “Please Review Your Posts” and a link to a list of what they shared on Facebook while the bug was active.”

    • Let’s Solve the Deeper Problem That Makes Facebook’s Bad Acting Possible

      The New York Times reports that Facebook has “data sharing partnerships” with “at least sixty device makers”. That Facebook formed these partnerships in apparent violation of its own 2011 consent agreement with the FTC is also no surprise.

      The simple fact is that Facebook is in the personal data farming business. Finding a zillion ways to use personal data is a design feature of Facebook’s service infrastructure, and as unsurprising as finding out that there are a zillion ways to use wheat or corn.

      This is why contractual limits on data use by Facebook and its partners won’t exclude countless other first, second and third-order uses—especially when the appetite for personal data is flat-out boundless in the direct marketing industry that advertising has become in our digital age.

      The GDPR didn’t happen in a vacuum. Bad acting with personal data in the adtech business (the one that aims advertising with personal data) is the norm, not the exception. Promises by perpetrators of that business to respect personal privacy don’t just ring hollow. They scream absolute disrespect straight at your eyeballs every time they interrupt your “experience” (as the marketers like to call it) and require “consent” to being tracked by them and the posse of spies that are invited to invade and set up house your browser every time you visit.

    • Facebook Bug Defaulted 14 Million Users’ Posts To General Public, Now Fixed

      On Thursday, Facebook announced it had fixed a weird bug that exposed Facebook posts of millions of users to the public. Another privacy blunder, affecting 14 million users, the bug occurred while the company was testing a new feature.

      Generally, when you post something on Facebook, the audience selector picks up what you chose the last time. Many people choose the Friends option. So, it’s the default in most cases.

    • Facebook apologizes for privacy glitch that affected up to 14 million user
    • WikiLeaks took 10 days to reject Cambridge Analytica’s US emails bid, says Tricksy Nixy

      A defiant Alexander Nix has told MPs the Cambridge Analytica (CA) scandal was caused by lying media and the only person to trust is the one who wrote the app that quietly harvested personal data on more than 80 million people.

      The ex-CEO at CA started the hearing in a tense standoff with Commons Culture, Media and Sport Committee chairman Damian Collins as he tried to read out prepared remarks before any questions were asked.

      “You’ve agreed to come and answer the members’ questions,” bristled Collins. “I’ve allowed you to make an opening statement and to go on now to the questions the committee wants to put to you. No, I will start the questions now.”

    • Cambridge Analytica chief accused of taking $8m before collapse
    • US to Limit Some Chinese Visas

      The U.S. State Department has announced plans to shorten the length of stay for some visas given to Chinese citizens.

      The move is part of an effort by the administration of President Donald Trump to protect U.S. intellectual property.

      The changes are expected to begin June 11. The State Department said that, under the new policy, U.S. consular officials giving visas may limit how long students can stay in the U.S. Currently, officials give visas for the maximum length of time possible.

      The State Department did not provide more details. However, a U.S. official told the Associated Press, or AP, that U.S. embassies and consulates were informed that some Chinese graduate students will be limited to one-year visas. This will be the case if the Chinese students are studying fields like robotics, aviation and high technology manufacturing.

    • IPVanish “No-Logging” VPN Led Homeland Security to Comcast User

      IPVanish, a VPN provider that for years claimed a strict no-logging policy, led Homeland Security to a suspect using a Comcast IP address, court papers filed in 2016 reveal. StackPath, the new operator of IPVanish, informs TorrentFreak that they won’t speak on behalf of the former team who have long since left the company. Assurances of security have been promised for the future, however.

    • New Homeland Security system will bring facial recognition to land borders this summer

      Now, that system is getting ready for a more permanent installation. In August, Customs and Border Protection will deploy a new system for scanning drivers’ faces as they leave the US, The Verge has learned. The pilot, called the Vehicle Face System (or VFS), is planned for installation at the Anzalduas border crossing at the southern tip of Texas and scheduled to remain in operation for a full year. The project is currently moving through the necessary privacy reviews, and it is set to be officially announced and submitted to the Federal Register in the coming months.

  • Civil Rights/Policing
    • Court-Appointed Neutral Economic Experts

      Complex civil litigation routinely includes expert economic testimony. However, it may be hard for a jury to determine at trial which expert economist is more credible, and it may be hard for the judge to determine at the Daubert hearing whether the methodology upon which a given expert economist relies is intellectually rigorous enough to produce results that constitute admissible testimony. One solution rarely employed is for the court to appoint its own neutral economic expert under Rule 706 of the Federal Rules of Evidence when a lawsuit contains a claim for damages that will require rigorous analysis of data. Based on my recent experience as Judge Richard Posner’s court appointed economic expert on damages in patent infringement litigation, I explain how the wider use of Rule 706 would assist the judge and jury and would facilitate the prompt settlement of intellectual property, antitrust, securities, contract, business tort, and other complex disputes. The benefits to courts and litigants would surely exceed the costs.

    • Jeff Sessions’ Deceitful Spin on Family Separation

      On a talk show Tuesday, Jeff Sessions resorted to blatant lies in defense of tearing immigrant families apart.

      In an interview on Tuesday morning with conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt, Attorney General Jeff Sessions doubled down on his defense of the Trump administration’s practice of tearing apart families seeking refuge in the United States, including those seeking asylum. The interview revealed not only Sessions’ lack of basic empathy and compassion but also his willingness to deceive the public in defending this cruel policy.

      During the conversation, Hewitt pushed Sessions to consider the implications of separating a child from his or her parent, even asking if Sessions could imagine his own grandchildren being taken from their parents. Yet Sessions would not be moved, opting instead to paint these devastated, vulnerable parents as criminals who are “just coming here because they’d like to make more money.”

      Further questioned on the morality of detaining people seeking asylum, Sessions resorted to outright lies. The issue, Sessions explained, is that people are not pursuing asylum in the correct way, by arriving through a U.S. port of entry: “If you come to the country, you should come through … the port of entry and make a claim of asylum.”

    • The Trump Administration Wants to Dump a Detained American Into One of the Most Dangerous Places on Earth

      The government said that it plans to drop off our client in Syria, either in a town or outside a refugee camp. He would have no identification or assurances of protection. This isn’t a safe release, it’s a death sentence, and we will soon be challenging it in court. As the U.S. government itself says in State Department travel advisories, no place in Syria is safe for U.S. citizens.

      Our client was detained in September by Kurdish forces in Syria and transferred to U.S. military custody in Iraq. The Trump administration has held this American as an “enemy combatant,” claiming that he fought for ISIS, which he denies. Now, with a court hearing scheduled in less than two weeks on whether the government can legally hold him, it wants to suddenly abandon him in the country he was trying to flee after being shot at, beaten, and threatened with death.

    • Kansas Prosecutors Are Locking People Up Rather Than Offering — Or Even Telling Them About — Diversion

      Last year, Melissa Braham was driving from Colorado to Missouri with her boyfriend and her two children. The car broke down in Kansas, and then her life broke down as well.

      A passerby called the police after allegedly smelling marijuana, and Ms. Braham was charged with possession of the marijuana and paraphernalia. She spent a month in jail pulling together her $2,500 bail and other fees, and eventually, she took a plea deal with six months of probation. This kept her confined to Kansas, a state where she knew no one.

      She soon lost her job in Colorado. And then, horrifically, the state of Kansas took her children from her, placing them in foster care and a new, strange school. The family remains separated today.

      Melissa Braham had no adult criminal record when she was prosecuted by Wilson County’s elected county attorney, Kenley Thompson. Her charges were extremely low-level. Given these facts, she was a good candidate for a program called “diversion,” by which defendants sign an agreement with prosecutors to stay out of trouble for a period of time, sometimes paying restitution, entering helpful counseling, or both.

      If defendants successfully meet these requirements, the prosecutor dismisses the charges. And that’s the beauty of diversion. It’s an intelligent and necessary alternative to pursuing expensive and disproportionately harsh prosecutions that seek to maximize punishment and jail or prison time rather than rehabilitation and long-term safety. In Kansas, prosecutors would save $8.9 million annually if they simply offered felony diversion in line with the national average of 9 percent, to say nothing of misdemeanors like Ms. Braham’s.

      But Thompson never even notified Ms. Braham of the existence of his county’s diversion program, despite the fact that notice is required by Kansas law. In 1980, the Kansas Supreme Court recognized that the notice requirement helps create a “uniform procedure to provide an alternative to formal conviction,” and the Kansas Attorney General’s Office has told the county attorneys under its authority that the purpose of the notification requirement is to “safeguard a defendant from discrimination by a prosecutor.” Therefore all county attorneys “must comply with the statutory diversion requirements.”

    • How Racial Profiling Goes Unchecked in Immigration Enforcement

      When immigration officers raided a rural Pennsylvania poultry transport company early last year, a lawyer for five undocumented men arrested saw plenty of evidence their rights had been violated.

      The Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers had no warrant to drive past the company’s “No Trespassing” signs and block the exits with their vans, or to demand documentation on the workers’ legal status. According to witnesses, the officers seemed to target workers solely based on their ethnicity: They lined up Latinos for questioning and asked white employees to lead them to more Latino workers.

      In a ruling last month, a Philadelphia immigration judge, John Carle, found there was a strong argument that the ICE officers had “egregiously violated” the Constitution. He noted that the agency presented no evidence to counter allegations of racial profiling.

      If the case had played out in criminal court, such a finding might well have resulted in the men going free.

      In immigration courts, however, there’s a higher bar, both for proving officers violated defendants’ rights and for getting cases thrown out as a result. Even when immigrants manage to meet this standard, they can get deported anyway.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality
  • Intellectual Monopolies
    • Exclusive: China’s ZTE signed preliminary agreement to lift U.S. ban: sources

      ZTE Corp (000063.SZ) has signed an agreement in principle that would lift a U.S. Commerce Department ban on buying from U.S. suppliers, allowing China’s No. 2 telecommunications equipment maker to get back into business, according to sources familiar with the matter.

    • Chinese firm ZTE signs preliminary agreement with US to restore business: report

      In total, the U.S. will collect $1.7 billion from the Chinese phone company for violating sanctions against Iran and North Korea.

    • Potentially game-changing Ericsson 5G patent application moves closer to grant [Ed: If they cannot summarise this in a few pages, then it's not a patent and mere distortion of the patent system. Ericsson nowadays operates through patent trolls and acts like one itself.]

      What is quite possibly the longest patent application ever submitted continues on its merry way to grant. IAM understands that Ericsson has recently received a positive international preliminary report on patentability from the European Patent Office on a PCT filing submitted last year that describes a detailed 5G architecture reading on a wide range of applications with varying requirements and characteristics. It purports to set out higher bandwidth, lower latency, better reliability, longer battery life and less interference than anything contained in the prior art.

    • quic wg interim Kista

      The IETF QUIC working group had its fifth interim meeting the other day, this time in Kista, Sweden hosted by Ericsson. For me as a Stockholm resident, this was ridiculously convenient. Not entirely coincidentally, this was also the first quic interim I attended in person.

      We were 30 something persons gathered in a room without windows, with another dozen or so participants joining from remote. This being a meeting in a series, most people already know each other from before so the atmosphere was relaxed and friendly. Lots of the participants have also been involved in other protocol developments and standards before. Many familiar faces.

    • Finance, Intangibles and the Privatization of Knowledge

      The paper examines different types of financial organization in a framework of incomplete law, under which the rights and the duties of the individuals are not completely specified. It focuses on the relationship between finance and specificity arguing that, while financial structure influences the degree of specificity of the assets, the degree of specificity of the assets influences the financial structure of firm. Because of these two-way relation, multiple possible equilibria exist and their selection is influenced by the nature the underlying assets. For this reason, the spectacular increase of intangibles is likely to have increased the role of equity finance relatively to traditional forms of banking, which are usually guaranteed by assets that, unlike most intangibles, have thick markets and fairly stable market values. The excessive financialization of the global economy mirrors the abnormal growth of intangibles and, in particular, of the assets related to the privatization of knowledge. International regulations should also tackle the negative effects of over-enclosing the knowledge commons.

    • Illegal Designs? Enhancing Cultural and Genetic Resource Protection Through Design Law

      Just a decade ago, a requirement that a designer disclose the origin of traditional cultural expressions, traditional knowledge, and biological or genetic resources used in creating a design in an industrial design application was virtually unheard of in national or regional protection systems. But as awareness of the many ways in which cultural and genetic resource use and misappropriation can occur is evolving, some developing countries have begun exploring the appropriateness of—and in some cases even instituting—such a requirement.

      These developments have taken center stage in the negotiations of a draft Design Law Treaty (DLT) in the World Intellectual Property Organization Standing Committee on the Law of Trademarks, Industrial Designs, and Geographical Indications, which is expected to make it easier for applicants to obtain design protection globally by limiting domestic design registration requirements. Currently, a controversy exists over an African Group proposal to allow policy space in the draft DLT for countries to be able to require design applicants to disclose the origin of traditional cultural expressions, traditional knowledge, and biological or genetic resources used in creating protectable designs.

    • European Union Files WTO Complaint Against China on Unfair Intellectual Property Practices

      The European Union announced on June 1 that it has launched a complaint against China to the World Trade Organization (WTO), citing Chinese policies that discriminate against foreign firms and force them to transfer proprietary technology.

      In a press release, the European Commission explained that European firms operating in China—which are often forced to establish joint ventures with domestic companies in order to gain access to the Chinese market—have been made to transfer technology to their Chinese counterparts.

    • Copyrights
      • TIL: Hardcore Pirates May Be The Biggest Buyers Of Legal Content

        One way the pirates could be turned into revenue generating customers is to sell them merchandise of their favorite movie or TV shows. For instance, in the case of Marvel Comics, many die-hard fans have a huge collection of action figures that don’t come cheap.

      • EU Publishers Freak Out Now That People Are Realizing Just How Fucked Up Their Link Tax Really Is

        We recently had Julia Reda, a Member of the EU Parliament, on the podcast to discuss the horrible copyright directive proposal soon to be voted on by the Legal Affairs Committee in the EU Parliament. As we’ve been explaining, there are two very problematic parts to the copyright proposal: mandatory upload filters and the so-called “link tax.” The link tax is also refered to as neighboring right or a snippet tax or a wide variety of similar things. But the crux of it is this: publishers are annoyed that Google and Facebook are successful, while they’ve been struggling. Ergo, the simplest solution is that Google and Facebook should be giving them money.

        To make this happen, for a while now they’ve been dishonestly screaming that Google and Facebook are somehow unfairly “profiting” off of their work, because those sites link to online published news stories, often including snippets. The theory is that this somehow takes away from those own sites’ ability to profit. This… makes no sense. First off, this effort drives valuable traffic to the websites of these publishers. This is obvious from the fact that all of the publishers whining about this (1) have not used robots.txt to block sites like Google from scraping them and (2) employ their own search engine optimization team to appear higher in search results, showing they value traffic driven by search. The “solution” to this made up “problem” then is to say that sites like Google or Facebook are violating a brand new “publisher’s right” or “neighboring right” in sending these sites traffic without also paying them, and thus they want to force sites to get a license to send traffic.

      • Following Copyright Law Should Be Enough—Even When Payment Processors Say it Isn’t

        Imagine running an online business for 17 years, only to have your ability to collect payments suddenly turned off. No real explanation. It’s happened to Roz and Nir Arbel now—twice.

        The Arbels run an online community called Soulseek. Originally intended to be a dating service, Soulseek today consists of various chat rooms that also allow users to share files. It’s a place where community and relationships have flourished. The site is particularly popular with underground musicians, their fans, and other creative types, who can easily chat with each other and share their work online.

        Soulseek isn’t focused on profit, but the Arbels do take donations to offset their expenses from running the site. Those donations were processed by PayPal until the payment service abruptly terminated Soulseek’s service in February—with virtually no explanation and no coherent appeal process.

      • Act now to stop the EU’s plan to censor the web

        As the Legal Affairs Committee of the European Parliament is nearing a vote on the proposed reform of the EU copyright rules, time is running out to make your voice heard. The vote will take place on June 20.

        The final copyright directive will have deep and lasting effects on the ability to create and share, to access and use education and research, and to support and grow diverse content platforms and information services. As it stands now, the copyright reform—especially Article 13—is a direct threat to the open web.

        Article 13 is the proposal that would require online platforms to monitor their users’ uploads and try to prevent copyright infringement through automated filtering.

        If you’re in the EU go to https://saveyourinternet.eu/ and tell Members of the European Parliament to delete Article 13 from the copyright directive.

      • MUSO, Of All Groups, Tells Copyright Holders To Get Their Shit Together And Treat Pirates Like The Customers They Are

        While the copyright industries love to frame so-called “pirates” as nefarious freeloaders who simply want to consume content for free, it’s been an open secret for some time now that these freeloaders are often outspending non-infringers on entertainment across the spectrum. Despite this clear indication that piracy is largely a problem of under-served customers, industry groups like the RIAA still prefer to play pretend with these obvious business metrics. The end result of this is that industry and anti-piracy groups essentially advocate for the attack of their constituents’ best customers, which ought to be about as insane a thing as one can imagine.

        But perhaps the tide is turning. An indication of that would be MUSO, the piracy-tracking group, essentially telling copyright industries to get their shit together and finally treat pirates like the great customers they tend to be. The report is based on a MUSO survey showing that 60% of UK citizens admit to engaging in copyright infringement, except the overwhelming majority of those “pirates” first tried, and failed, to get that content legally.

      • On June 20, an EU committee will vote on an apocalyptically stupid, internet-destroying copyright proposal that’ll censor everything from Tinder profiles to Wikipedia (SHARE THIS!)

        The European Union is updating its 2001 Copyright Directive, with a key committee vote coming up on June 20 or 21; on GDPR day, a rogue MEP jammed a mass censorship proposal into the draft that is literally the worst idea anyone in Europe ever had about the internet, ever.

        Under “Article 13,” sites that allow the public to post anything that might be copyrighted — text, pics, videos, games, sounds, code — will have to run user submissions through a copyright filter that will check to see if it matches the a known copyrighted work. It’s YouTube’s perennially busted, overblocking Content ID, but for everything from Github to the copyrighted images on that band tee you wore in your Tinder profile.

        These black boxes will have the unaccountable power of life or death over everything Europeans say to each other online. They’ll ingest everything we say to each other — likely sending it to one of the giant American tech companies that specialise in this kind of filtering — and render a judgment.

Links 7/6/2018: ​Buildah 1.0 and Mozilla’s Voice Collection

Thursday 7th of June 2018 11:56:01 PM

Contents GNU/Linux
  • Desktop
    • First look: Huawei MateBook X Pro with Ubuntu 18.04 Linux

      The Huawei MateBook X Pro is a pretty nice little laptop, featuring a 13.9 inch, 3000 x 2000 pixel touchscreen display with super-slim bezels, an all-metal chassis, and support for up ton an Intel Core i7-8550U processor, 16GB of RAM, 512GB of storage, and NVIDIA GeForce MX150 graphics.

      Huawei recently announced that the MateBook X Pro is coming to America, and it’s up for pre-order from B&H.

    • Samsung Chromebook Plus Adds Linux App Support

      Sooner than I honestly expected, it seems that the Crostini Project has made its way to the Developer channel on the Samsung Chromebook Plus.

      As Robby reported in early May, the Crostini Reddit revealed a user who was already up and running with Crostini(sort of) on the ARM-powered Chromebook. Additionally, a number of commits in the Chromium repository gave us some pretty solid evidence that developers had shifted their efforts to making the container tech work outside of the Pixelbook.

      Thanks to a recent update to the Developer channel, we are now seeing reports that ‘Kevin‘ a.k.a the Samsung Chromebook Plus can now run the Linux terminal app just like the Pixelbook does.

    • Samsung Chromebook Plus Now Supports Linux apps

      The Chrome OS ecosystem is finally changing. This comes after Chromebooks, and the Chrome OS, in general, are now supporting Linux apps. This means that Chromebooks could now actually run more applications. By doing so, tech-savvy users claim that Chromebooks would become eventually a major competitor to both Mac and Windows laptops.

  • Server
    • Easier container security with entitlements

      During KubeCon + CloudNativeCon Europe 2018, Justin Cormack and Nassim Eddequiouaq presented a proposal to simplify the setting of security parameters for containerized applications. Containers depend on a large set of intricate security primitives that can have weird interactions. Because they are so hard to use, people often just turn the whole thing off. The goal of the proposal is to make those controls easier to understand and use; it is partly inspired by mobile apps on iOS and Android platforms, an idea that trickled back into Microsoft and Apple desktops. The time seems ripe to improve the field of container security, which is in desperate need of simpler controls.

    • Kubernetes, Four Years Later, and Amazon Redefining Container Orchestration

      Well, here we are. Kubernetes turns four years old this month—technically, on June 7, 2018—the very same platform that brings users and data center administrators scalable container technologies. Its popularity has skyrocketed since its initial introduction by Google. Celebrating the project’s birthday is not the only thing making the headlines today. Amazon recently announced the general availability of its Elastic Container Services for Kubernetes (EKS), accessible via Amazon Web Services (AWS).

      Once upon a time, it wasn’t a simple task to orchestrate and manage containers in the cloud. Up until this recent EKS announcement, it was up to the administrator to spin up a virtual machine through an Elastic Cloud Compute (EC2) service, run Kubernetes on top of a traditional Linux server installation in EC2 and rely on other AWS moving components to host the container image registry. The entire process was very involved. Not any more!

    • Designing new cloud architectures: Exploring CI/CD – from data centre to cloud

      Nobody knows what DevOps really is, but if you are not doing, using, breathing, dreaming – being? – DevOps, you’re doing it wrong. All teasing aside, with the advent of DevOps, the gap that existed between development teams and operation teams has become closer, to the extent of some companies mixing the teams. Even so, some of those took a different approach and have multidisciplinary teams where engineers work on the product throughout the lifecycle, coding, testing and deploying – including on occasion security teams as well, now called DevOpsSec.

    • How not to kill your DevOps team
    • Kubernetes Deep Dive and Use Cases

      When containers were first introduced in 2008, Virtual Machines, or VMs, were the state-of-the-art option to optimize a data center’s physical resources. This arrangement worked well enough, but had some flaws: Virtual machines utilized too many resources because they required both a complete operating system, and emulated instructions to reach the physical CPU. Even with some technologies like Intel VT-x and AMD-V that attempted to solve the emulation problem, virtual machines were behind bare metal.

    • Mesos and Kubernetes: It’s Not a Competition

      The project was founded in 2009. In 2010 the team decided to donate the project to the Apache Software Foundation (ASF). It was incubated at Apache and in 2013, it became a Top-Level Project (TLP).

      There were many reasons why the Mesos community chose Apache Software Foundation, such as the permissiveness of Apache licensing, and the fact that they already had a vibrant community of other such projects.

      It was also about influence. A lot of people working on Mesos were also involved with Apache, and many people were working on projects like Hadoop. At the same time, many folks from the Mesos community were working on other Big Data projects like Spark. This cross-pollination led all three projects — Hadoop, Mesos, and Spark — to become ASF projects.

  • Kernel Space
    • Stratis: Easy local storage management for Linux

      Stratis is a new local storage-management solution for Linux. It can be compared to ZFS, Btrfs, or LVM. Its focus is on simplicity of concepts and ease of use, while giving users access to advanced storage features. Internally, Stratis’s implementation favors tight integration of existing components instead of the fully-integrated, in-kernel approach that ZFS and Btrfs use. This has benefits and drawbacks for Stratis, but also greatly decreases the overall time needed to develop a useful and stable initial version, which can then be a base for further improvement in later versions. As the Stratis team lead at Red Hat, I am hoping to raise the profile of the project a bit so that more in our community will have it as an option.

    • Unprivileged filesystem mounts, 2018 edition

      The advent of user namespaces and container technology has made it possible to extend more root-like powers to unprivileged users in a (we hope) safe way. One remaining sticking point is the mounting of filesystems, which has long been fraught with security problems. Work has been proceeding to allow such mounts for years, and it has gotten a little closer with the posting of a patch series intended for the 4.18 kernel. But, as an unrelated discussion has made clear, truly safe unprivileged filesystem mounting is still a rather distant prospect — at least, if one wants to do it in the kernel.

      Attempts to make the mount operation safe for ordinary users are nothing new; LWN covered one patch set back in 2008. That work was never merged, but the effort to allow unprivileged mounts picked up in 2015, when Eric Biederman (along with others, Seth Forshee in particular) got serious about allowing user namespaces to perform filesystem mounts. The initial work was merged in 2016 for the 4.8 kernel, but it was known to not be a complete solution to the problem, so most filesystems can still only be mounted by users who are privileged in the initial namespace.

    • Bpfilter (and user-mode blobs) for 4.18

      In February, the bpfilter mechanism was first posted to the mailing lists. Bpfilter is meant to be a replacement for the current in-kernel firewall/packet-filtering code. It provides little functionality itself; instead, it creates a set of hooks that can run BPF programs to make the packet-filtering decisions. A version of that patch set has been merged into the net-next tree for 4.18. It will not be replacing any existing packet filters in its current form, but it does feature a significant change to one of its more controversial features: the new user-mode helper mechanism.

      The core motivation behind bpfilter is performance. An in-kernel, general-purpose packet filter must necessarily offer a wide range of features; any given site will probably only use a small subset of those features. The result is a lot of unused code and time spent checking for whether a given feature is in use, slowing the whole thing down. A packet-filtering configuration expressed as a BPF program, instead, contains only the code needed to implement the desired policy. Once that code is translated to native code by the just-in-time compiler, it should be both compact and fast. The networking developers hope that it will be fast enough to win back some of the users who have moved to proprietary user-space filtering implementations.

      If bpfilter is to replace netfilter, though, it must provide ABI compatibility so that existing configurations continue to work. To that end, the bpfilter developers intend to implement the current netfilter configuration protocol; bpfilter will accept iptables rules and compile them to BPF transparently. That compilation is not a trivial task, though, and one that could present some security challenges, so the desire is to do it in user space, but under kernel control.

    • Observations on trackpoint input data

      This time we talk trackpoints. Or pointing sticks, or whatever else you want to call that thing between the GHB keys. If you don’t have one and you’ve never seen one, prepare to be amazed. [1]

      Trackpoints are tiny joysticks that react to pressure [2], convert that pressure into relative x/y events and pass that on to whoever is interested in it. The harder you push, the higher the deltas. This is where the simple and obvious stops and it gets difficult. But then again, if it was that easy I wouldn’t write this post, you wouldn’t have anything to read, so somehow everyone wins. Whoop-dee-doo.

    • Hutterer: Observations on trackpoint input data

      Peter Hutterer writes about the behavior of trackpoint devices in great detail.

    • FUSE Gets User Namespace Support With Linux 4.18

      The FUSE updates have been sent in for allowing file-systems in user-space, what Linus Torvalds previously referred to as being for toys and misguided people.

      With FUSE for Linux 4.18 it adds a new feature: user name-space support to allow for safe unprivileged FUSE mounts within a user name-space.

    • Linux 4.18 Continues Prepping For The Year 2038

      The Linux kernel has already been prepping for years for Year 2038 and that work is still ongoing with the in-development Linux 4.18 kernel.

      For those unfamiliar with the Year 2038 problem, that is when systems using a signed 32-bit integer for storing the time since 1 January 1970, as is standard for the Unix time-stamp, will wrap around. That obviously will cause many systems to be confused. The Linux kernel across its around 20 million lines of code has been working to address the “Y2038″ problem but it’s no easy task with the around twenty million lines of code to the Linux kernel.

    • Plenty Of Sound Changes To Be Heard With Linux 4.18

      Adding to the growing list of kernel changes for Linux 4.18 are a great deal of sound driver/subsystem updates.

    • Linux 4.9.107
    • Linux 4.4.136
    • BPFILTER, Net Failover Driver & Other Network Changes For Linux 4.18

      David Miller has submitted the big platter of networking updates for the in-development Linux 4.18 kernel.

      Arguably the most notable networking addition for Linux 4.18 is the new BPFILTER infrastructure that will eventually be used to replace existing firewall and packet filtering implementations within the kernel. The new BPFILTER-based solution should allow better security, easier maintenance, and potential performance wins via BPF JIT and hardware offloading. But for Linux 4.18 is just the initial framework and the user-mode helpers.

    • Linux Foundation
      • Get Essential Git, Linux, and Open Source Skills with New Training Course
      • Why Linux Works [Ed: it says "This article was originally published in October, 2017"]

        The Linux community works, it turns out, because the Linux community isn’t too concerned about work, per se. As much as Linux has come to dominate many areas of corporate computing – from HPC to mobile to cloud – the engineers who write the Linux kernel tend to focus on the code itself, rather than their corporate interests therein.

        Such is one prominent conclusion that emerges from Dawn Foster’s doctoral work, examining collaboration on the Linux kernel. Foster, a former community lead at Intel and Puppet Labs, notes, “Many people consider themselves a Linux kernel developer first, an employee second.”

        With all the “foundation washing” corporations have inflicted upon various open source projects, hoping to hide corporate prerogatives behind a mask of supposed community, Linux has managed to keep itself pure. The question is how.

      • The Linux Foundation Announces Keynote Speakers for Open Source Summit North America

        Keynote speakers include:

        Ajay Agrawal, Artificial Intelligence & Machine Learning Expert, Author of Prediction Machines, and Founder of The Creative Destruction Lab
        Jennifer Cloer, Founder of reTHINKit and Creator and Executive Producer of The Chasing Grace Project
        Wim Coekaerts, Senior Vice President of Operating Systems and Virtualization Engineering, Oracle
        Ben Golub, Executive Chairman and Interim CEO, and Shawn Wilkinson, Co-founder, Storj Labs
        Preethi Kasireddy, Founder & CEO, TruStory
        Window Snyder, Chief Security Officer, Fastly
        Imad Sousou, Corporate Vice President and General Manager, Open Source Technology Center, Intel
        Sana Tariq, Senior Architect, E2E Service Orchestration, TELUS

    • Graphics Stack
      • There’s A Discussion Again About Flipping On Intel “Fastboot” DRM Driver Support

        For over six years now has been the Intel DRM driver’s “Fastboot” support for eliminating unnecessary mode-set operations during the boot process, with an original focus on improving the laptop/ultrabook boot experience. While there have been attempts at getting Fastboot enabled by default, it hasn’t happened to date but now a Red Hat developer is hoping to get it turned on for at least some generations of Intel hardware to benefit the work going into improving the Fedora boot experience.

      • Does Forcing “High” DPM Performance Help Out Your AMDGPU Performance?

        A premium patron recently asked about testing the open-source Radeon driver performance when testing the forced “high” dynamic power management state rather than the default “auto” mode. Here are some benchmarks.

      • Etnaviv Gallium3D Now Working On NIR Support

        The Etnaviv Gallium3D driver for providing reverse-engineered, open-source 3D graphics driver support for Vivante graphics hardware is currently pursuing NIR intermediate representation support.

        Philipp Zabel is one of multiple Pengutronix developers working on this open-source Etnaviv driver stack. He shared on Tuesday that they have been working on NIR support for a while, the new intermediate representation brought up over the past few years initially for the Intel Mesa driver and has since expanded to VC4, Freedreno, and optionally the RadeonSI driver as part of their SPIR-V support.

      • DXVK 0.54 Brings Better AMD Performance, Improved GPU Utilization

        DXVK 0.54 is available today as the latest version of this Direct3D-11-over-Vulkan translation layer to benefit Wine gamers looking to enjoy faster D3D11 gaming performance on Linux.

        With DXVK 0.54 comes support for utilizing host-visible device-local memory with AMD graphics cards. This allows putting dynamic resources there that need fast access by the graphics processor. In turn this should improve the performance; at least for The Witcher 3 it ends up being about a 5% performance improvement for this change to the memory flags.

      • DXVK 0.54 released with improved AMD GPU performance, plus DXUP for D3D10 is a thing

        The awesome DXVK project for Vulkan D3D11 in Wine has another fresh release out and it’s a pretty good one.

        Once again, I’m shocked by how quickly it has been releasing updates and solving issues. Considering it’s mostly by one person, it’s mind-boggling how far it has come in such a short amount of time. Anyway…here’s what’s new on 0.54.

      • The Big DRM Updates For Linux 4.18: Intel Icelake, Vega M, Vega 20 & V3D

        David Airlie, the subsystem maintainer for the Direct Rendering Manager, has submitted the big feature pull request today for the Linux 4.18 kernel. All of the DRM feature work yields a net gain of close to fifty-thousand lines of code for this cycle.

      • [Older] GPU virtualization update
    • Benchmarks
      • macOS 10.13 vs. Windows 10 vs. Clear/Fedora/openSUSE/Ubuntu Linux Benchmarks

        When running tests this week on a MacBook Pro for the Dota 2 Vulkan/OpenGL cross-OS performance I also took the opportunity as part of the fun benchmarking week for celebrating the Phoronix 14th birthday by running a broader set of system benchmarks across the latest macOS 10.13 High Sierra, Windows 10 Pro, and various Linux distributions. Here are those CPU/system performance benchmark results.

      • NVIDIA vs. AMD Linux GPU Performance For THRONES OF BRITANNIA

        This morning Feral Interactive released A Total War Saga: THRONES OF BRITANNIA for Linux gamers. This Linux port of A Total War Saga: THRONES OF BRITANNIA is powered by the Vulkan graphics API rather than OpenGL and makes for an interesting test subject. Here are our initial benchmarks of this game under Ubuntu Linux with a range of AMD Radeon and NVIDIA GeForce graphics cards.

  • Applications
  • Desktop Environments/WMs
    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt
      • Alan Pope: KDE Slimbook 2 Review

        The kind folks at Slimbook recently sent me the latest generation of their ultrabook-style laptop line for review, the KDE Slimbook 2. You can hear my thoughts on the latest episode of the Ubuntu Podcast, released on June 7th 2018.

        Slimbook are a small laptop vendor based in Spain. All the laptops ship with KDE Neon as the default operating system. In addition to their hardware, they also contribute to and facilitate local Free Software events in their area. I was sent the laptop only for review purposes. There’s no other incentive provided, and Slimbook didn’t see this blog post before I published it.

        Being a small vendor, they don’t have the same buying power with OEM vendors as other big name laptop suppliers. This is reflected in the price you pay. You’re supporting a company who are themselves supporting Free Software developers and communities.

        If you’re after the cheapest possible laptop, and don’t care about its origin or the people behind the device, then maybe this laptop isn’t for you. However, if you like to vote with your wallet, then the KDE Slimbook should absolutely be on your list to seriously consider.

      • Cutelyst on TechEmpower benchmarks round 16

        Yesterday TechEmpower released the results for round 16 of their benchmarking tests, you can see their blog about it here. And like for round 15 I’d like add my commentary about it here.

        Before you look into the results web site it’s important to be aware of a few things, first round 16 runs on a new hardware newer and more powerful than the previous rounds, they also did a Dockerization of the tests which allowed us to pull different distro images, cache package install and isolate from other frameworks. So don’t try to compare to round 15.

      • Integrating QML and Rust: Creating a QMetaObject at Compile Time

        There were already numerous existing projects that attempt to integrate Qt and Rust. A great GUI toolkit should be working with a great language.

      • KDE Connect on Plasma Mobile

        The digital world has changed over the last 10 years. The usage of mobile devices skyrocketed whereas the desktop market is stagnating. The trend is also going towards smaller and convertible devices. The mobile market is controlled by two major corporations. One of them is religiously cutting down your personal freedom and aiming towards a walled garden proprietary ecosystem, the other one is disrespecting your privacy enormously. With Plasma Mobile the KDE community is envisioning a mobile experience that is giving you maximal freedom while ensuring your privacy. It seems like a bold venture, but we have to at least try, right?

        Plasma Mobile would not be a true KDE project without the same degree of integration with the desktop as we already have with Android devices. Therefore we aim to make Plasma Mobile a first-class citizen of KDE Connect.

        [...]

        Kirigami Framework it will run on Plasma Mobile automagically. What are you waiting for?

      • LabPlot getting support for MQTT

        After successfully connecting to the broker. The MQTT client subscribes to the “#” wildcard. This means that the client gets every message published on the broker, so we can add every active topic to a combo box. The user can choose from these topics the ones the MQTT client will subscribe to. Since lots of topics are added to the combo box, by starting to type the topic’s name we can narrow down the list the user has to choose from. Subscribing and unsubscribing to a topic is also implemented.

      • GSoC 2018: Coding period (week 1-3)
    • GNOME Desktop/GTK
      • GNOMEs beat Microsoft: Git Virtual File System to get a new name

        Microsoft is going to rename the Git Virtual File System to eliminate its clash with GNOMErs.

        The purpose of the Git Virtual File System was laudable: Redmond’s developers were sick of taking the afternoon off after typing “git clone” (even “git checkout” could take hours), so they gave GitHub users a workaround.

        At the time, Microsoft’s Saeed Noursalehi explained that GVFS “virtualises the file system beneath your repo and makes it appear as though all the files in your repo are present, but in reality only downloads a file the first time it is opened.”

        At last, developers could handle terabyte-size repos without taking up knitting.

  • Distributions
    • Call for distros: Patch cups for better internationalization

      If you’re reading this and use cups to print (almost certainly you do if you’re on Linux), you may want to contact your distribution and ask them to add this patch.

      It adds translation support for a few keyword found in some printers PPD files. The CUPS upstream project has rejected with not much reason other than “PPD is old”, without really taking into account it’s really the only way you can get access to some advanced printer features (see comments in the same thread)

    • Reviews
      • Linux Lite 4.0 – New Features and Step by Step Installation Guide

        Linux lite is one of the top and one of the most downloaded Linux distros and recently it has released its latest version in Linux Lite 4.0. In this article, we are going to look into the new features and enhancements that is made available in Linux Lite 4.0 along with a step by step guide to install Linux Lite 4.0 in your system.

    • Red Hat Family
      • ​Buildah 1.0: Linux Container construction made easy

        The good news about containers, such as Docker’s, is they make it easy to deploy applications, and you can run far more of them on a server than you can on a virtual machine. The bad news is that putting an application into a container can be difficult. That’s where Buildah comes in.

        Buildah is a newly released shell program for efficiently and quickly building Open Container Initiative (OCI) and Docker compliant images and containers. Buildah simplifies the process of creating, building, and updating images while decreasing the learning curve of the container environment.

      • How do you explain your organization’s purpose? 3 lessons from Red Hat

        Last year, Red Hat embarked on a journey to articulate our company’s “Why”—our highest level reason for existing in the world. We followed an open and inclusive process that engaged more than 10,000 Red Hatters, which I outlined in a previous column. Today, I’ll share a few lessons we learned along the way.

      • ROCm 1.8.1 Released With Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7.5 Support

        The AMD GPUOpen engineers maintaining the ROCm “Radeon Open Compute” driver stack with OpenCL support have today rolled out the ROCm 1.8.1 point release.

        ROCm 1.8 was released last month with various improvements to this OpenCL/compute stack designed for the “larger” AMD GPUs compared to their alternative PAL OpenCL driver stack for APUs and smaller GPUs. With ROCm 1.8.1 it’s just a minor update.

      • Red Hat bridges data centre and edge deployments

        Red Hat, the world’s leading provider of open source solutions, introduced Red Hat Hyperconverged Infrastructure for Cloud, an integrated solution for customers seeking to co-locate compute and storage functions in OpenStack environments.

        The new offering combines Red Hat OpenStack Platform 13 and Red Hat Ceph Storage 3 in a single user experience, supported by a common lifecycle for greater operational and organisational efficiency.

        Red Hat Hyperconverged Infrastructure for Cloud offers an open platform to improve application portability between the data centre and the edge, especially critical to enterprises that historically didn’t have any choice outside of inflexible, proprietary systems.

      • Red Hat expands cloud-native integration portfolio

        Red Hat, Inc. (NYSE: RHT), the world´s provider of open source solutions, has announced the availability of Red Hat Fuse 7, the next major release of its distributed, cloud-native integration solution, and introduced a new fully hosted low-code integration Platform-as-a-Service (iPaaS) offering, Fuse Online, the company said.

        With Fuse 7, Red Hat is expanding its innovative integration capabilities natively to Red Hat OpenShift Container Platform, the industry´s most comprehensive enterprise Kubernetes platform. Fuse gives customers a unified solution for creating, extending and deploying containerized integration services across hybrid cloud environments.

      • How Red Hat Morphed From Linux Pioneer Into Cloud-Computing Player

        Bearish analysts warned that companies would buy less of Red Hat’s software for their private data centers and that it could be shut out from the cloud. One worry was that Amazon Web Services offered customers its own version of open-source Linux for free.

      • Red Hat unveils new integrated cloud solution

        Red Hat, a leading provider of open source solutions, has introduced Red Hat Hyperconverged Infrastructure for Cloud, an integrated solution for customers seeking to co-locate compute and storage functions in OpenStack environments.

      • Red Hat Hyperconverged Infrastructure for Cloud Bridges Datacenters and Edge Deployments

        Red Hat, Inc. (NYSE: RHT), the world’s leading provider of open source solutions, introduced Red Hat Hyperconverged Infrastructure for Cloud, an integrated solution for customers seeking to co-locate compute and storage functions in OpenStack environments. The new offering combines Red Hat OpenStack Platform 13 and Red Hat Ceph Storage 3 in a single user experience, supported by a common lifecycle for greater operational and organizational efficiency.

        Red Hat Hyperconverged Infrastructure for Cloud offers an open platform to improve application portability between the datacenter and the edge, especially critical to enterprises that historically didn’t have any choice outside of inflexible, proprietary systems. In addition, nodes in an OpenStack deployment are interoperable, giving customers the choice to use non-hyperconverged nodes across their networks, with hyperconverged nodes at the edge, further improving resource utilization. By using existing skill sets in building private and hybrid cloud deployments, customers can innovate faster to address next-generation requirements for the edge.

      • Citellus: System configuration validation tool

        Working in Support is not an easy task, each customer has adapted our products to best fit their needs and while this is a great advantage of open source software, it also broadens the spectrum of different configurations.

        Over time, the typical support case has evolved. It’s not just a system with some failure or behavior that should be checked like individual system-level configuration, tuning, lifecycle management, master kits, etc. Now, it’s leaning towards the interactions between several systems like clustering, virtualization (Red Hat Virtualization) and finally cloud (OpenShift, OpenStack or combinations).

      • Finance
      • Fedora
    • Debian Family
      • Debian on a synthesizer

        Bela is a low latency optimized platform for audio applications built using Debian and Xenomai, running on a BeagleBoard Black. I recently stumbled upon this platform while skimming through a modular synthesizer related forum. Bela has teamed up with the guys at Rebel Technologies to build a Bela based system in eurorack module format, called Salt. Luckily enough, I managed to secure a unit for my modular synthesizer.

      • Derivatives
        • Canonical/Ubuntu
          • Canonical Announces Ubuntu for Amazon’s Elastic Container Service for Kubernetes

            Officially launched on Tuesday, Amazon Elastic Container Service for Kubernetes (Amazon EKS) is engineered to deliver Kubernetes, the open-source and production-grade container orchestration tool as a managed service on the AWS (Amazon Web Services) cloud computing services. As Ubuntu is the most widely used container host operating system, especially for Kubernetes deployments, it can now be used to host containers in Amazon’s EKS.

            “The benefits of Ubuntu optimization by Amazon and Canonical now extend to Amazon’s Elastic Container Service for Kubernetes (EKS) with Ubuntu worker nodes hosting high-performance Docker containers in AWS. This creates perfect portability for enterprise container workloads developed on Ubuntu workstations and operated on private infrastructure with Canonical’s distribution of upstream Kubernetes,” said Canonical.

  • Devices/Embedded
Free Software/Open Source
  • Intel Develops A SPIR-V Translator To Run On The CPU

    It’s not a CPU-based Vulkan implementation or along those lines, but Intel’s newest open-source project allows converting SPIR-V into optimized instructions for running on modern CPUs.

  • HarfBuzz 1.8 Released With Unicode 11 Support

    HarfBuzz 1.8 was released on Tuesday, the same day as the Unicode 11 release. HarfBuzz is the text shaping library born out of the FreeType project that is now widely used across many applications from Firefox to Inkscape and Java.

  • Capillary is an open source library to help developers implement end-to-end encryption for push notifications

    If you’re a developer that implements push notifications in your app and you or your users care about data privacy, then it’s important that you transmit these push messages securely. For those of you who are already into data security, then implementing strong encryption measures is a no-brainer. For others, it’s a difficult feature to implement. Google’s Firebase Cloud Messaging (FCM) pushes messages over TLS so you can send your messages securely through Google’s servers, but by doing so you aren’t meeting the gold standard which is end-to-end encryption. Without end-to-end encryption, a theoretical third party could compromise the data; with it, only the end user’s device can decrypt the data. Implementing E2E encryption can be difficult for new developers, so that’s why Google is introducing Project Capillary. It is an open-source library that facilitates implementing E2E encryption between developers’ servers and clients’ devices.

  • Steve Jobs promised to make FaceTime open source. It’s time

    I hate Skype. And though I’ve had better luck with Google Hangouts, I mostly hate it too. In 2018, it’s still a big freaking chore to meet people face-to-face over the internet, particularly for business meetings — even if your company uses something fancier like BlueJeans or WebEx or what have you.

  • Steve Jobs Promised Open Source FaceTime Back in 2010: What Happened?

    At this year’s WWDC, Apple introduced a major new feature for FaceTime: the ability to make group calls of up to 32 participants, provided that all users’ Apple devices are on iOS 12. But, eight years ago, Steve Jobs promised something different.

  • Legal battle may be to blame for Apple breaking its FaceTime promise
  • Here’s Why Apple Never Made FaceTime an Open-Standard as Promised
  • This could be why Apple has yet to make FaceTime an open-standard like it promised
  • Verizon looks to open source for Edge architectures

    To say that the network edge and edge computing is an area of much discussion is perhaps the understatement of the year, and the technology choices available to telcos can be perplexing. Verizon is one of the more progressive carriers in this area, so how did the US telco approach this new wild frontier and what were its requirements for a successful Edge deployment? There are numerous technology choices available, from VMs to containers, but just how robust and resilient are some of the new software and hardware projects – and are they what many operators like to call “telco grade”?

  • Introducing Gaum: An Open Source O/RM That isn’t an O/RM

    We decided that, until we better understood the best way to shape our data, we shouldn’t worry about optimizing the efficiency of storing it. The tricky thing with data efficiency, is that you first need to figure out the best way to extract the information your service requires, in order to determine the best architecture. A parallel could be drawn to a work table, you first need to use it, work on it, live it to analyze the mess and from it obtain a use pattern for your tools and then arrange them.

    And there, we made a compromise, an O/RM. O/RMs, like many other technologies that bridge two different paradigms, have their fair share of detractors and supporters… and we’ve certain experienced both sides. At first it was wonderful, in about a week we moved our code base to use the O/RM (I am intentionally omitting the name because I don’t believe in software shaming open source projects) and for a period it was good: We moved the structure of our data, added columns, made queries, moved info and it was all done relatively easily, almost “magically”.

  • Events
    • Notes from the 2nd Operating-System-Directed Power-Management Summit

      The second Operating-System-Directed Power-Management (OSPM18) Summit took place at the ReTiS Lab of the Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna in Pisa between April 16 and April 18, 2018. Like last year, the summit was organized as a collection of collaborative sessions focused on trying to improve how operating-system-directed power management and the kernel’s task scheduler work together to achieve the goal of reducing energy consumption while still meeting performance and latency requirements.

      [...]

      What is still missing in load tracking? Vincent Guittot presented the evolution of the load tracking mechanism in the Linux scheduler and what should be the next steps. The session was split into three parts. The first part showed the improvements made in scheduler load tracking since last OSPM summit and listed the features that have already been merged. The audience agreed that new load tracking was far more accurate, stable, and helpful in scheduler load balancing.

      Vincent then described what still remains to be fixed, like the case of realtime tasks preempting ordinary tasks. There is also a desire to remove the current rt_avg mechanism and to replace it with the new load-tracking information. Based on this use case, the discussion extended to the definition of CPU utilization and what is needed to get a complete view. We already track ordinary task utilization, and we had seen with the previous use case that tracking realtime utilization is beneficial. The audience agreed that we should extend that to account for interrupt pressure and SCHED_DEADLINE usage to get a complete view of the utilization.

  • Web Browsers
    • Firefox dropped below the 10% share value on Netmarketshare

      Google Chrome, Firefox’s biggest rival in the browser world, managed to increase its massive lead from 60.08% in June 2017 to 62.85% in May 2018.

    • Mozilla
      • More Common Voices

        Today we are excited to announce that Common Voice, Mozilla’s initiative to crowdsource a large dataset of human voices for use in speech technology, is going multilingual! Thanks to the tremendous efforts from Mozilla’s communities and our deeply engaged language partners you can now donate your voice in German, French and Welsh, and we are working to launch 40+ more as we speak. But this is just the beginning. We want Common Voice to be a tool for any community to make speech technology available in their own language.

      • Parlez-vous Deutsch? Rhagor o Leisiau i Common Voice

        We’re very proud to be announcing the next phase of the Common Voice project. It’s now available for contributors in three new languages, German, French and Welsh, with 40+ other languages on their way! But this is just the beginning. We want Common Voice to be a tool for any community to make speech technology available in their own language.

        Speech interfaces are the next frontier for the Internet. Project Common Voice is our initiative to build a global corpus of open voice data to be used to train machine-learning algorithms to power the voice interfaces of the future. We believe these interfaces shouldn’t be controlled by a few companies as gatekeepers to voice-enabled services, and we want users to be understood consistently, in their own languages and accents.

        As anyone who has studied the economics of the Internet knows, services chase money. And so it’s quite natural that developers and publishers seek to develop for the audience that will best reward their efforts. What we see as a consequence is an Internet that is heavily skewed towards English, in a world where English is only spoken by 20% of the global population, and only 5% natively. This is increasingly going to be an accessibility issue, as Wired noted last year, “Voice Is the Next Big Platform, Unless You Have an Accent”.

      • AreWeFastYet UI refresh

        For a long time Mozilla’s JS team and others have been using https://arewefastyet.com to track the JS engine performance against various benchmarks.

      • Side View is the Firefox Feature I’ve Been Waiting For

        Since its Quantum update I have to say that I’m loving Mozilla Firefox — but a promising new feature on the horizon could help me to love it even more!

        It’s called Side View and it’s an experimental feature available to try, from today, as part of the Firefox Test Pilot program.

        What’s that?

        Firefox Test Pilot is an opt-in, participatory effort that allows wily Firefox users like you and me to help test new features as web extensions before they’re ready for wider dissemination.

      • Happy BMO Push Day!
      • Happy BMO Push Day!
      • Mozilla Releases Firefox 60.0.2 for Linux, Windows, Mac, and Android

        Mozilla released on Wednesday Firefox 60.0.2, the second point release of the Firefox 60 “Quantum” web browser series with an updated NSS component and various improvements.

        Coming about three weeks after Firefox 60.0.1, this point release isn’t as imperious as it, but it updates the NSS (Network Security Services) component, a set of libraries for supporting cross-platform development of security-enabled server and client apps, to version 3.36.4 from 3.36.1 used in the previous release.

      • Pseudolocalization in Firefox

        One of the core projects we did over 2017 was a major overhaul of the Localization and Internationalization layers in Gecko, and all throughout the first half of 2018 we were introducing Fluent into Firefox.

      • Browser detection inside a WebExtension

        Just for the record, if you really need to know about the browser container of your WebExtension, do NOT rely on StackOverflow answers… Most of them are based, directly or not, on the User Agent string. So spoofable, so unreliable. Some will recommend to rely on a given API, implemented by Firefox and not Edge, or Chrome and not the others. In general valid for a limited time only… You can’t even rely on chrome, browser or msBrowser since there are polyfills for that to make WebExtensions cross-browser.

      • Mozilla’s Common Voice Project Now Multilingual, Victory at Sea Pacific Coming Soon to Linux, Thunar 1.8 Released and More

        Mozilla yesterday announced that its Common Voice project, which is crowdsourcing a large dataset of human voices for use in speech technology, will now be multilingual. You currently can donate your voice in German, French and Welsh, and Mozilla will be adding 40+ languages soon.

      • Browse Two Websites in One Tab With Firefox Side View

        Side View is a Firefox Test Pilot project, meaning it might become part of Firefox later. This simple feature lets you browse websites using the Firefox sidebar. Here’s a quick overview:

      • Mozilla goes multilingual with open source Common Voice speech recognition datasets

        Mozilla has announced that it’s expanding its crowdsourced Common Voice project — an initiative that’s setting out to create an open source voice-recognition dataset — to include more languages.

        The tech organization first announced Common Voice last June, inviting volunteers from around the world to record snippets of text with their voice through web and mobile apps.

  • Databases
    • SQLite Release 3.24.0 On 2018-06-04
    • SQLite 3.24 Released With UPSERT Support

      SQLite 3.24.0 was quietly released earlier this week as the newest version of this widely-used embedded database library.

      The most prominent addition to SQLite 3.24.0 is that it adds support for an UPSERT operation. The UPSERT syntax allows for an INSERT to happen but to act as an UPDATE if necessary or no operation in the event of a uniqueness constraint being violated. UPSERT is not part of standard SQL but SQLite is following the PostgreSQL syntax. SQLite’s UPSERT behavior is outlined via their documentation.

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice
  • CMS
    • Open Source News: WordPress GDPR Compliant; Liferay, Joomla New Releases and More

      WordPress 4.9.6 is now available, bringing a whole bunch of GDPR-compliant features with it. For example, site owners can now designate a privacy policy page which will be shown on login and registration pages. Furthermore, WordPress site owners can now export a ZIP file containing a user’s personal data, using data gathered by WordPress and participating plugins. And finally, site owners can erase a user’s personal data, including data collected by participating plugins.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)
  • BSD
    • RETGUARD for clang (amd64) added to -current
    • TrueOS to Focus on Core Operating System

      The TrueOS Project has some big plans in the works, and we want to take a minute and share them with you. Many have come to know TrueOS as the “graphical FreeBSD” that makes things easy for newcomers to the BSDs. Today we’re announcing that TrueOS is shifting our focus a bit to become a cutting-edge operating system that keeps all of the stability that you know and love from ZFS (OpenZFS) and FreeBSD, and adds additional features to create a fresh, innovative operating system. Our goal is to create a core-centric operating system that is modular, functional, and perfect for do-it-yourselfers and advanced users alike.

      TrueOS will become a downstream fork that will build on FreeBSD by integrating new software technologies like OpenRC and LibreSSL. Work has already begun which allows TrueOS to be used as a base platform for other projects, including JSON-based manifests, integrated Poudriere / pkg tools and much more. We’re planning on a six month release cycle to keep development moving and fresh, allowing us to bring you hot new features to ZFS, bhyve and related tools in a timely manner. This makes TrueOS the perfect fit to serve as the basis for building other distributions.

    • TrueOS To Reinvent Itself As New BSD Platform, Downstream Fork Of FreeBSD

      Going back to when TrueOS was known as PC-BSD, the operating system has generally been known as a desktop-friendly version of FreeBSD that currently ships with its own Qt5-powered Lumina Desktop Environment while also having a server installer, etc. The folks working on TrueOS at iXsystems are now planning to take TrueOS into a new direction.

      TrueOS is going to become a downstream fork of FreeBSD while continuing with innovations like the ZFS file-system by default but also making use of OpenRC as the init system, LibreSSL, and other changes compared to upstream FreeBSD.

    • Release Planning Is Underway For LLVM 7.0, Shipping In September

      Continuing LLVM release manager Hans Wennborg has begun discussing plans for the upcoming LLVM 7.0 release.

      As is usual with LLVM’s six-month release cadence, the next release should be out in September as usual. But while LLVM normally branches for its second release of the year around mid-July, LLVM 7.0 might branch around the start of August. Due to Wennborg having a later summer holiday this year, he would like to branch when he gets back to work at the start of August.

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC
  • Licensing/Legal
    • New wave of technology industry leaders join efforts to increase predictability in open source licensing

      The GNU General Public License (GPL) and GNU Lesser General Public License (LGPL) are among the most widely used open source software licenses covering many important software projects, including the Linux kernel. GPL version 3 (GPLv3) introduced an approach to termination that offers distributors of the code an opportunity to correct errors and mistakes in license compliance. This approach allows for enforcement of license compliance consistent with a community in which heavy-handed approaches to enforcement, including for financial gain, are out of place, the statement added.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration
    • Open Hardware/Modding
      • Leap Motion Open Sources The Project North Star AR Headset’s Schematics

        Leap Motion today released the designs for the Project North Star reference AR headset, along with instructions on how to put it together.

        Leap Motion has long been a proponent of immersive technology. The company specializes in gesture tracking technology and first introduced a peripheral that would enable you to control your PC with a wave of your hand. When VR hardware began to emerge in the consumer market, Leap Motion quickly adapted its technology for VR input. Now it has turned its sights to the budding AR market, but instead of offering to license its tracking technology to hardware makers, the company created a full reference headset to help accelerate AR HMD design.

      • Build Your Own AR Headset Using Leap Motion’s Open Source Project North Star Design

        Less than two months since unveiling Project North Star, Leap Motion has released the reference design that will allow developers, makers, and even manufacturers to build their own augmented reality headsets based on Leap Motion’s work.

        The version of the Project North Star headset built by Leap Motion features a pair of 1600 x 1400 displays capable of 120 fps and a combined field of view exceeding 100 degrees. The headset also features Leap Motion’s next generation ultra-wide tracking module, which has yet to hit the market in an AR headset. The rest of the headset is comprised of a combination of off-the-shelf and 3D printed components.

  • Programming/Development
    • How Is Android Game Development Linked With Modern Technology

      The concept of Android game development is not confined only to gaming consoles, PCs and allied programmable hardware. The present–day digital domain is highly enriched with latest gadgets and modern technology that provide flexibility, portability and engaging exposure. Android is regarded as the most popular operating system for mobiles, but it is also widely used in digital cameras, wrist watches, gaming consoles and television. The trend of Android game development became evident when it was successfully blended into different hardware platforms. Due to this reason, the gaming sector understood the preference of Android technology over Java or Symbian.

    • 8 roles on a cross-functional DevOps team

      If you’re just getting started with a squad model, you may not be sure what roles you’ll need for your team to function smoothly. Our squad model in the IBM Digital Business Group is based on the Spotify Squad framework. At a high level, a squad is a small, cross-functional team that has autonomy to deliver on their squad mission. The squad missions and cross-squad priorities are set at an organizational level. Then within each squad, they decide “what to build, how to build it, and how to work together while building it.”

      We tweaked the Spotify squad model a bit to fit our own style of working. One key difference for us is that our squads are more long-lived than those at Spotify. Some squads in our org will last for a few months, and others will last for a couple of years. The squads that build and operate new services tend to be long-lived, while the mission-oriented squads that use existing services to build something new tend to be short-lived.

    • 5 Best GitHub Alternatives For 2018 | Free Source Code Hosting Sites
    • Good News! GitLab’s Paid Plans Are Now Free For Open-Source Projects

      Now that GitLab is stepping up its game, what do you think about it?

      Do you have a project hosted on GitHub? Will you be switching over? Or, luckily, you already happen to use GitLab from the start?

    • Best GitHub Alternatives for 2018 – Compared
    • Not-So-Self-Hosting

      This post is not about Microsoft, GitHub or GitLab, and it’s neither about any other SaaS solution out there, the named companies and products are just examples. It’s more about “do you really want to self-host?”

    • the single most important criteria when replacing Github

      Consider all the data that’s used to provide the value-added features on top of git. Issue tracking, wikis, notes in commits, lists of forks, pull requests, access controls, hooks, other configuration, etc.
      Is that data stored in a git repository?

      Github avoids doing that and there’s a good reason why: By keeping this data in their own database, they lock you into the service. Consider if Github issues had been stored in a git repository next to the code. Anyone could quickly and easily clone the issue data, consume it, write alternative issue tracking interfaces, which then start accepting git pushes of issue updates and syncing all around. That would have quickly became the de-facto distributed issue tracking data format.

      Instead, Github stuck it in a database, with a rate-limited API, and while this probably had as much to do with expediency, and a certain centralized mindset, as intentional lock-in at first, it’s now become such good lock-in that Microsoft felt Github was worth $7 billion.

    • Git and Subversion collaboration

      Most of the material in this blog is already written up, and the best sources I found are here and here. There practically everything is written down, but when one goes down to business some things work out a bit differently.

    • Enter Jakarta EE: an Inoculation Against Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt in the Java Community

      Developers can be passionate about the tools and languages they use for development. This passion is a double-edged knife. It can foster growth of the technology’s adoption and inspire the direction of energy into the language that one has chosen to advocate. The passion might also scare off those who wish to use the language or are just entering the field, particularly when the opposing view is exaggerated, incorrect or out of date with the current state of the technology. This latter scenario injects (often unintentionally) into the dialogue regarding the technology in question Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt (FUD).

    • One year of C

      It’s now nearly a year that I started writing non-trivial amounts of C code again (the first sokol_gfx.h commit was on the 14-Jul-2017), so I guess it’s time for a little retrospective.

    • How Will Microsoft Handle GitHub’s Controversial Code?

      But the beloved developer platform may also introduce moderation headaches. Microsoft will soon need to formally decide what will happen to the many GitHub repositories that conflict with its own interests. The tech giant will face similar content moderations challenge that peers like Facebook and Google have, but with code instead of speech.

    • Atom Editor Development To Continue After Microsoft GitHub Acquisition

      After the recent news that Microsoft acquired GitHub, many users were concerned regarding the future of the popular free and open source code editor Atom, developed by GitHub. Lee Dom, Open Source Community Manager at GitHub, has assured users that “Atom remains key to GitHub”, but he didn’t get into any details.

Leftovers
  • Science
    • Guest Post — Nanomedicine: A Vast Horizon on a Molecular Landscape — Cosmeceuticals

      One of the first nanoparticle-containing cosmeceutical products was launched by the French company L’Oreal in 1995. This product was formulated to deliver prolonged cosmetic and/or pharmaceutical activity to the skin (U.S. Patent Nos. 5,556,617 and 5,993,831). Nowadays there are many cosmeceutical products using nanotechnology for many different purposes. For example, ZnO and TiO2 nanoparticles are used to provide a transparent and less greasy sunscreen product to protect the skin from ultraviolet ray damage (U.S. Patent Application Publication No. US 20120097068). Core-shell structured nanoparticles have been developed to deliver active agents to specific sites (U.S. Patent No. 6,635,720 and U.S. Patent Application Publication No. US 20170000737). Gold and/or silver nanoparticles have been combined in various ratios with pigments to provide long lasting and variable brilliant colors (U.S. Patent Application Publication No. US 20090022765). Hard nanoparticles, such as nanoclay, nanosilica, and nanoceramics, have been incorporated into nail polish to increase the strength and scratching/cracking resistance of these products (U.S. Patent Application Publication No. US 20100196294).

  • Health/Nutrition
    • PTSD in First Responders

      ProPublica and 90.7 WMFE are investigating post-traumatic stress disorder and how it affects first responders and their families. Reported by WMFE’s Abe Aboraya, the year-long project will shed light on these issues, starting with Orlando, the site of the 2016 Pulse nightclub shooting in which 49 people were killed.

      Photography by Cassi Alexandra. Music composition by Julian Bond. Special thanks to Framed by WDET, a similar audio-visual experience produced by Detroit’s WDET 101.9 FM, for their guidance in producing this event.

  • Security
    • You Can Now Manage Nitrokey Encryption USB Keys in Ubuntu, Other Linux Distros

      Snaps are becoming more and more popular these days as Canonical pushes its universal binary format into mainstream GNU/Linux distributions outside the Ubuntu ecosystem.

      More and more independent developers are packaging their apps as Snaps, making their deployment a breeze across multiple Linux-based operating systems, for both end users and package maintainers. One of the last such apps that caught our attention is called Nitrokey-app and was created by Szczepan.

    • Severe Flaws Drive Rise in Bug Bounty Payouts, Bugcrowd Reports

      Bugcrowd released its 2018 State of the Bug Bounty report on June 6, revealing key trends in the evolving market for bug bounties.

      Among the high-level findings in the report is that organizations are now paying more for vulnerability disclosures than they have in prior years. Across Bugcrowd’s platform, the average bug bounty is now $781, which is a 73 percent increase over the company’s 2017 report.

    • 32-bit ARM Finally Gets Mitigated For Spectre V1/V2 With Linux 4.18
    • A Tentative Linux Kernel Patch For Able AMD CPUs To Address Spectre V4 / SSBD

      Linux kernel developer veteran Konrad Rzeszutek Wilk at Oracle has posted a set of experimental/debug patches for dealing with AMD “Speculative Store Bypass Disable” (SSBD) support for mitigating the Spectre Variant Four vulnerability.

    • VPNFilter Update – VPNFilter exploits endpoints, targets new devices

      Cisco Talos, while working with our various intelligence partners, has discovered additional details regarding “VPNFilter.” In the days since we first published our findings on the campaign, we have seen that VPNFilter is targeting more makes/models of devices than initially thought, and has additional capabilities, including the ability to deliver exploits to endpoints. Talos recently published a blog about a broad campaign that delivered VPNFilter to small home-office network devices, as well as network-attached storage devices. As we stated in that post, our research into this threat was, and is, ongoing. In the wake of that post, we have had a number of partners step forward with additional information that has assisted us in our work. This post is an update of our findings over the past week.

    • VPNFilter Router Malware Is Still Alive: More Devices Infected, New Capabilities Added
    • Security updates for Thursday
  • Defence/Aggression
    • Tech Workers Versus the Pentagon

      For months, Google employees have led a campaign demanding that the company terminate its contract with the Pentagon for Project Maven, a program that uses machine learning to improve targeting for drone strikes. Nearly five thousand Google workers signed an internal petition to cancel the project, and dozens resigned.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting
    • Press Wakes Up To The Fact That DNC’s Lawsuit Against Wikileaks Could Harm Press Freedoms

      Back in April, when lots of anti-Trump folks were cheering on the decision of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) to sue various Russians and Wikileaks for hacking and publishing DNC emails, we pointed out that the lawsuit was full of some pretty crazy claims, especially those against Wikileaks. As we said, even if you really hate the role that Julian Assange and Wikileaks played in the 2016 election, the lawsuit itself could have serious ramifications on press freedom, at a time when you would think that those who don’t support the President would want the press to have more freedom to report on him and the various things happening in his administration.

    • What killed the computer hacker who turned in Chelsea Manning still a mystery

      Exactly what killed the computer hacker who gave up Army whistleblower Chelsea Manning to the FBI remains a mystery.

      Forensic pathologists who performed Adrian Lamo’s autopsy were unable to determine how the 37-year-old died in March in Wichita. His autopsy report, released Wednesday afternoon, lists Lamo’s cause and manner of death as “undetermined.” That means that after a thorough examination of his body, results of toxicology testing and information about Lamo’s life and last hours, there is nothing that points to a specific reason he died.

      “Despite a complete autopsy and supplemental testing, no definitive cause of death was identified,” Scott Kipper, deputy coroner and medical examiner at the Sedgwick County Regional Forensic Science Center, wrote in the report.

      The opinion section of the report notes that Lamo had a history of anxiety, depression, Asperger’s syndrome, and drug and alcohol abuse. He also suffered from a seizure disorder that could not be ruled out as a possible cause or contributing factor to his death, it says.

    • Australian officials spotted in mysterious Assange visit

      Australian government officials have paid a mysterious visit to Julian Assange in his Ecuadorian embassy refuge in London, in a sign there may be a breakthrough in the stalemate that has lasted almost six years.

      Two officials from Australia’s High Commission were spotted leaving the embassy in Knightsbridge in west London on Thursday.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature
    • The Fight to Upend Facebook’s Black Market of Animal Parts

      On Facebook, wildlife traffickers can speedily connect with buyers across the globe, fast-tracking illegal, unregulated deals from within the semiprivate world of groups. That means, in order to tackle wildlife trading, you have to first figure out Facebook. Michael’s new profile was the first step in a massive digital sting operation, aimed at exposing how Facebook facilitates the illegal wildlife trade. Eventually, the evidence he collected would help a global consortium of conservationists launch a complaint they hope will rid the site of these kinds of posts—and tamp down on trafficking writ large.

  • Finance
    • UPS Teamsters ready to stage America’s biggest strike since 1997, with solidarity as the main sticking point

      Superficially, the issue is about the company moving to seven-day delivery, but the issue that’s forcing the strike is the sizable cohort of union members who are unwilling to accept a two-tier workplace where established workers get the full protection of the union and younger hires are given a worse deal. This has been a traditional way that employers have split, weakened and ultimately killed their workers’ unions — by buying off the long-established employees with better deals that make the workers who’ll replace them feel that unions have nothing to offer them, which establishes divisions that can be exploited later to lay off those higher-paid workers, leaving only the lowest-paid employees and no union they can use to press for better pay.

    • America may soon face its biggest labor strike in decades

      “Most people understand in the world of Amazon (AMZN) and e-commerce, UPS isn’t going to be Monday to Friday or even Monday to Saturday any more, it’s going to be a seven-day operation,” said David Levin, spokesman for UPS Teamsters United. “But they made record profits. They don’t need concessions to do that.”

    • Legislators in Many States Can Push Bills They’d Profit From

      It’s a fundamental part of representative government: Politicians are elected to advocate for their constituents, and not their own interests.

      But in many states, laws and ethics rules allow representatives to advance bills that would benefit their own financial interests, as well.

      Take Louisiana, where lawmakers only have to recuse themselves if a proposed bill benefits them specifically and no one else, as The Advocate and ProPublica have detailed this week. So, for example, if the owner of a group of nursing homes votes for a bill that would increase profits for his business, but not for other nursing home owners, that would be a conflict of interest. But if the bill increases profit for the entire industry, then it’s acceptable.

      Similar language exists in the majority of states, regardless of whether they have full-time, part-time or citizen legislatures. In part-time and citizen legislatures, in which lawmakers are not paid a full salary and often rely on other employment, this means people connected to certain industries or fields are not automatically barred from voting on legislation that might affect them financially.

    • The Family Plan: In Louisiana, Lawmakers Promote Bills That Help Their Relatives and Clients

      State Sen. Norby Chabert wanted to offer a helping hand to his district’s truck stop casinos.

      The number of video poker machines allowed in the casinos is tied to how much gas the attached stations sell. Bridge construction projects in Chabert’s hometown of Houma have diverted traffic and hurt gas sales at nearby casinos, limiting the number of video poker machines they can have.

      Earlier this year, Chabert supported a bill eliminating that link for truck stops more than 10 years old.

      “Without the bridge being constructed, they would have hit every sales trigger that they needed,” he said of one such casino. “It was at one of the biggest intersections on the east side of Houma, and when you shut down a bridge in bayou country, people go to the next bridge … and it damn near shut them down,” Chabert told his colleagues in a Senate committee meeting.

      What Chabert, a Republican, left out of the story: His own brother owns a truck stop on the east side of Houma that has been affected by the bridge construction.

      Chabert acknowledged to The Advocate that his brother, Marty, matches the particulars of the story he told, but so do other truck stop casinos in his district. Marty Chabert earned $1.5 million in income from the truck stop in 2015 and 2016, according to the financial disclosure forms he filed as a member of the state Board of Regents.

    • What the #%$ is a CryptoKitty?

      CryptoKitties is a game built on top of the Ethereum blockchain and smart contracts. CryptoKitties is a decentralized application, or “DApp,” built on top of the Ethereum computing platform. This means that the application is run and the kitties are stored on a distributed network of computers running Ethereum nodes.

      Because it’s based on Ethereum, CryptoKitties uses the Ether cryptocurrency token. Ether is an “altcoin,” which just means it’s a cryptocurrency that isn’t Bitcoin. Performing tasks like breeding CryptoKitties involves paying Ether tokens to the Ethereum network, compensating the people running those Ethereum nodes for their computing power. Ether is also used when buying and selling CryptoKitties.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics
    • With Literal Nazis Running for Office, NYT Suggests Candidate’s Israel Criticism Is Antisemitic

      Eight overt white nationalists are running for office in 2018—a new record, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center. Overt fascists, inspired by the rise of President Donald Trump, have found a place both within and just outside the margins of the official Republican Party. Over 20,000 people voted in a GOP primary this past March for former American Nazi Party member Art Jones, making him the Republican candidate for the US House in Illinois’ 3rd District. Patrick Little, who told NBC (5/3/18) that the “monstrous nature of the Jewish people must be known to the public,” ran as a Republican for Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s seat in California, and got more than 50,000 votes.

      With the increase on the US right in overt Nazi activity, one might be surprised to see the paper of record (New York Times, 5/29/18) turn its sights not on this disturbing trend, but on progressive candidate Leslie Cockburn, whose criticism of Israel is being cynically exploited by her opponents in the Republican Party—the same party increasingly finding common cause with a host of white nationalists, alt-right and “alt-light” elements.

      Let’s begin with the headline, “Democratic Candidate Who Criticized Israel Faces Charges of Antisemitism.” It’s rare for political reporters to let partisan opponents wholly manufacture a controversy, much less frame it, but when it does happen—as it did in January 2016 when the Times let a number of Clinton operatives smear Sanders as a Commie infiltrator (FAIR.org, 5/25/16)—one can be certain it will be against a left-leaning candidate.

    • Still Waiting for Evidence of a Russian Hack

      If you are wondering why so little is heard these days of accusations that Russia hacked into the U.S. election in 2016, it could be because those charges could not withstand close scrutiny. It could also be because special counsel Robert Mueller appears to have never bothered to investigate what was once the central alleged crime in Russia-gate as no one associated with WikiLeaks has ever been questioned by his team.

      Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity — including two “alumni” who were former National Security Agency technical directors — have long since concluded that Julian Assange did not acquire what he called the “emails related to Hillary Clinton” via a “hack” by the Russians or anyone else. They found, rather, that he got them from someone with physical access to Democratic National Committee computers who copied the material onto an external storage device — probably a thumb drive. In December 2016 VIPS explained this in some detail in an open Memorandum to President Barack Obama.

      On January 18, 2017 President Obama admitted that the “conclusions” of U.S. intelligence regarding how the alleged Russian hacking got to WikiLeaks were “inconclusive.” Even the vapid FBI/CIA/NSA “Intelligence Community Assessment of Russian Activities and Intentions in Recent U.S. Elections” of January 6, 2017, which tried to blame Russian President Vladimir Putin for election interference, contained no direct evidence of Russian involvement. That did not prevent the “handpicked” authors of that poor excuse for intelligence analysis from expressing “high confidence” that Russian intelligence “relayed material it acquired from the Democratic National Committee … to WikiLeaks.” Handpicked analysts, of course, say what they are handpicked to say.

  • Censorship/Free Speech
    • Court Tosses Out Silly Trollish Publicity Stunt Defamation Lawsuit

      Almost exactly a year ago, we wrote about a ridiculous defamation lawsuit filed by a plaintiff who has a history of fairly trollish, attention seeking behavior. I chose not to name the person in the post as I argued that the lawsuit itself was something of a publicity stunt, and I’ll continue to do that here, even though it will become clear in the quoted parts of the ruling below. I have no interest in participating in the publicity stunt part of the lawsuit — but do feel compelled to write about it because of the First Amendment issues that are a key component in the case. Amusingly, the plaintiff had a history of loudly proclaiming her support for free speech and the First Amendment, even going so far as to once state: “I care more about free speech… than almost any other issue.”

  • Privacy/Surveillance
    • HART: Homeland Security’s Massive New Database Will Include Face Recognition, DNA, and Peoples’ “Non-Obvious Relationships”

      The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is quietly building what will likely become the largest database of biometric and biographic data on citizens and foreigners in the United States. The agency’s new Homeland Advanced Recognition Technology (HART) database will include multiple forms of biometrics—from face recognition to DNA, data from questionable sources, and highly personal data on innocent people. It will be shared with federal agencies outside of DHS as well as state and local law enforcement and foreign governments. And yet, we still know very little about it.

      The records DHS plans to include in HART will chill and deter people from exercising their First Amendment protected rights to speak, assemble, and associate. Data like face recognition makes it possible to identify and track people in real time, including at lawful political protests and other gatherings. Other data DHS is planning to collect—including information about people’s “relationship patterns” and from officer “encounters” with the public—can be used to identify political affiliations, religious activities, and familial and friendly relationships. These data points are also frequently colored by conjecture and bias.

      In late May, EFF filed comments criticizing DHS’s plans to collect, store, and share biometric and biographic records it receives from external agencies and to exempt this information from the federal Privacy Act. These newly-designated “External Biometric Records” (EBRs) will be integral to DHS’s bigger plans to build out HART. As we told the agency in our comments, DHS must do more to minimize the threats to privacy and civil liberties posed by this vast new trove of highly sensitive personal data.

    • EU Commission Violates GDPR; Claims That It’s Exempt From The Law For ‘Legal Reasons’

      Last week, we noted that the EU Parliament’s website appeared not to be compliant with the GDPR. As we noted, this was pointed out in response to EU Commissioner Vera Journova claiming that complying with the GDPR was so easy, that even she could do it. Now, a valid response to all of this would be to point out that the EU Parliament is different than the EU Commission or other parts of the EU government. But, now that we know the EU Parliament is not compliant, would it surprise you at all to find out that the European Commission is also not compliant with the GDPR. Apparently, while she was so busy claiming it was easy to comply with, Journova forgot to have the Commission itself comply.

      Specifically, Jason Smith, at the website Indivigital, discovered that various places on the EU’s websites were hosting spreadsheets with personal information on many people who had attended events, and were revealing that information without permission (the report also found various GDPR violations involving 3rd party cookies).

    • Private Internet Access’ “No-Logging” Claims Proven True Again in Court

      VPN provider Private Internet Access, which has a strict no-logging policy, has proven once again that it is unable to link online activities with a user’s identity. The conclusion, which was revealed as part of a hacking trial in San Jose federal court, is the second time that the provider’s claims have been successfully tested in public.

    • Facebook shared data access with Huawei, other Chinese firms

      The social media company had data-sharing partnerships with Huawei, Lenovo, Oppo and TCL that date back to at least 2010, according to the report.

      The agreements gave the companies private access to certain user data.

    • Facebook gave user data to ‘at least 4 Chinese companies,’ including tech giant ID’d as security threat by U.S. intel

      Despite Mark Zuckerberg’s internal war on transparency, the Facebook data abuse reveals just keep on coming.

    • Latest Privacy Fracas Drops Facebook In The Middle Of Anti-Huawei Hysteria

      Facebook is under fire yet again for potentially being far too casual in its treatment of private consumer data.

      Earlier this week, the New York Times issued a report noting that Facebook had struck deals with more than 60 different hardware vendors since at least 2010, providing them with “vast amounts” of private user data. According to the report, these partnerships allowed some devices to retrieve personal information even from users’ friends who believed they had barred any sharing with third party vendors, potentially violating a 2011 FTC consent decree that banned such sharing without obtaining express customer permission.

      To be clear, the partnerships are notably different from the deals struck with companies like Cambridge Analytica, which we now know routinely let app makers hoover up private data under false pretenses, then use that data for other purposes (like oh, riling up partisans ahead of an election). And Facebook was quick to issue a blog post trying to downplay the scope of the revelations:

    • Facebook Gave Data Access to Chinese Firm Flagged by U.S. Intelligence

      Facebook has data-sharing partnerships with at least four Chinese electronics companies, including a manufacturing giant that has a close relationship with China’s government, the social media company said on Tuesday.

      The agreements, which date to at least 2010, gave private access to some user data to Huawei, a telecommunications equipment company that has been flagged by American intelligence officials as a national security threat, as well as to Lenovo, Oppo and TCL.

      The four partnerships remain in effect, but Facebook officials said in an interview that the company would wind down the Huawei deal by the end of the week.

      Facebook gave access to the Chinese device makers along with other manufacturers — including Amazon, Apple, BlackBerry and Samsung — whose agreements were disclosed by The New York Times on Sunday.

    • Facebook Agrees It Shared User Data With Chinese Tech Firms

      Earlier this week, the news of Facebook giving data access to device makers came to light. It turns out, not only Apple, Amazon, and Blackberry were okayed by the social media company to access data, but four other Chinese firms too.

      In Apple’s defense, CEO Tim Cook claimed that company has requested or received “zero” personal data that was mentioned in the NY Times report. What Apple did is it added the ability to share stuff like photos, he told NPR in an interview.

    • Facebook confirms data-sharing partnerships with Chinese firms, including US-scorned Huawei

      Following the revelation that Facebook was sharing user data with phone and hardware makers, the social network came out to say it has partnerships with at least four Chinese electronics companies.

    • French expert: Huawei unsafe because ‘China is not like us’

      A French expert on China says that while there is no public evidence that Chinese telecommunications company Huawei has conducted espionage on behalf of Beijing, countries in the West should be careful because “China is not a country like Australia or the UK or the US”.

    • Court Says German Intelligence Agency Can Continue To Deploy Its Dragnet On World’s Largest Internet Hub

      The post-Snowden effects on Germany’s surveillance architecture have been muted. Oversight in the US is a joke, but it’s marginally better than what’s being offered in other countries. You’d think a country that survived almost-consecutive crushing surveillance states would be a bit more cautious about deploying dragnets. Not so. All evidence points to German surveillance programs flourishing under the lack of effective oversight, limited only by technical prowess rather than concerns for those swept up by them.

      Internal investigations prompted by revelations seemed like a step forward, but the government gave German surveillance programs a thumbs up three years later. The information revealed by Snowden and other leakers did give residents and advocates enough ammunition for legal battles, but the German courts haven’t really given them anything in return.

      David Meyer of ZDNet reports a court has handed a win to Germany’s Federal Intelligence Service (BND) in a lawsuit filed by Frankfort’s De-Cix, the largest internet hub in the world. The BND has tapped this for years, sweeping up massive amounts of data and communications, and frequently passing this on to surveillance partners around the world. De-Cix was compliant until 2016, when it decided to sue BND for violating German law.

    • How Snowden has changed journalism and privacy, five years later

      Five years ago today, The Guardian began publishing a series of stories exposing the National Security Agency’s warrantless mass surveillance regime. Three days later, the whistleblower behind the historic disclosures unmasked himself as NSA contractor Edward Snowden.

      In the weeks and months that would follow, Snowden would transform the national and international conversation about privacy in our digital lives.

      An appeals court ruled mass surveillance unconstitutional. Tech companies were forced to both increase security for their billions of customers, and push back harder on legal demands for individuals’ information. Congress was pressured into passing historic—albeit ultimately inadequate—intelligence reform. The White House was forced to declassify thousands of additional documents on government surveillance powers.

    • Californians Cannabis Buyers Deserve Data Privacy Rights

      On January 1 of this year, it became legal under state law for California adults to purchase cannabis products for recreational use. But the more than 5,000 cannabis operators who are already licensed are amassing sensitive data about their customers. That’s why EFF supports a bill to stop vendors from sharing this data without customers’ consent.

      Without controls on how consumers’ cannabis-related data gets passed around, lawful cannabis customers could face discrimination when seeking work, housing, or government benefits. To prevent that, EFF is supporting A.B. 2402, a proposal to prevent state-licensed cannabis sellers from selling or sharing customers’ personal information without their consent. The bill also prohibits dispensaries from discriminating against a customer who chooses to withhold that consent.

      This isn’t a theoretical problem. Recent news reports have found that dispensaries are, in fact, keeping computer databases with customer profiles in them. A survey by Politifact California found that most dispensaries scan customer driver licenses, and require names and phone numbers to be filled out before purchases are made. EFF’s letter to the bill’s sponsor goes into more detail on these reports.

    • Apple could have years of your internet browsing history; won’t necessarily give it to you

      Apple has years of your internet browsing history if you selected “sync browser tabs” in Safari. This internet history does not disappear from their servers when you click “Clear internet history” on Safari – which has led to many users being surprised to receive this data from Apple. This recently was brought to the internet’s attention by Denis Bosnic, who filed a GDPR request for his data from Apple and was shocked to find detailed logs of his internet history showing URL and timestamp of visit. This apparently happens if you consent to sharing browser bookmarks and tabs between Apple devices – though Bosnic noted that there was no explicit notice of this when setting up that feature in Apple Safari.

    • Redditor claims Chinese border guards installed malware on his phone

      “I saw the installation process, an icon appear on the home screen, the police ran the application and then the icon hid itself. Not sure if it rooted my phone or what. I know something was running on my phone because they used a handheld device to confirm our phones were communicating with their system before letting us go.”

    • Edward Snowden has ‘no regrets’ five years after NSA leaks

      While many people argue that not much has changed, Snowden disagreed. “People say nothing has changed: that there is still mass surveillance. That is not how you measure change. Look back before 2013 and look at what has happened since. Everything changed.”

      “The government and corporate sector preyed on our ignorance. But now we know. People are aware now. People are still powerless to stop it but we are trying. The revelations made the fight more even.”

  • Civil Rights/Policing
    • Laramie, Wyoming Sheriffs’ department blocks public records requests for their prison phone monopoly deal

      Migrants, prisoners, old people, school kids, poor people — they’re the beta-testers for everything bad that’s headed for wide distribution, so it pays to keep close tabs on their treatment.

    • Laramie County, Wyoming withholds prison phone contract under “trade secret” clause

      As part of a nationwide MuckRock survey, the request under the Wyoming Public Records Act was looking for the contract between the Sheriff’s Office, which oversees the local jail, and the company providing telephone services to its inmates. Many local and state jails contract the provision of these services to companies like Securus, Global Tel Link, and ICSolutions; these contracts often include a commission for the Sheriff’s Department or prison, allowing the agency to receive a portion of the charges shouldered by inmates, sometimes as high as 70 to 80% of total costs.

    • Court Calls Out Cops For Altering Interrogation Transcript To Hide Suspect’s Request For A Lawyer

      Mynor Vargas-Salguero was arrested and convicted of second-degree murder, robbery, and theft. The lower court sided with the government, finding his demands for a lawyer “ambiguous.” The Appeals Court disagrees, finding it clear enough, especially when the recording of the interrogation is compared to law enforcement’s transcript of the recording’s contents.

      That’s where the real ambiguity lies. Or rather, there doesn’t seem to be much ambiguous about law enforcement’s attempt to retcon the post-arrest questioning to make Salguero’s request for a lawyer vanish into the ether.

      There was a language barrier but not an insurmountable one. Salguero’s first language is Spanish but he knows some English. Two of the detectives present spoke Spanish. One spoke only English. Occasionally, translation was needed for the single English-only speaker in the room. But, for the most part, the interrogation flowed. The detectives told Salguero he wasn’t being charged with anything, despite hauling him in with an arrest warrant. Salguero made it clear he wasn’t interested in talking if he didn’t get a lawyer.

    • Book Review: John Perry Barlow’s Mother American Night

      For many, John Perry Barlow’s name might be inseparable from the digital advocacy work he did in the early days of the Internet. But the EFF co-founder’s impact—and adventures—spanned areas as diverse as Hollywood, politics, popular music, and environmental policy. His newly-released memoir, Mother American Night: My Life in Crazy Times, follows Barlow, who passed away earlier this year, from his upbringing in Wyoming as “ranching royalty,” through to the experience of writing his first song for the Grateful Dead (“Mexicali Blues”), up to the phone calls with hackers in the Legion of Doom that led him to work with Mitch Kapor in creating the Electronic Frontier Foundation—and beyond.

      Barlow’s “crazy times” extend beyond his more well-known interactions with the Dead during the Summer of Love and his conversations on the “Whole Earth ‘Lectronic Link” (AKA the WELL, an early virtual community) during the first years of the Internet. Barlow writes of the time he spent at Andy Warhol’s famous Factory; of traveling on a pilgrimage through India after selling the rights to a novel straight out of college; and of his relationships with people as diverse as Steve Jobs, Timothy Leary, and John F. Kennedy, Jr. He was, it seems, good at being in the right places at the right times with the right people, while doing what he calls, in a typical Barlow-ism, “hanging out with intent.”

      As a result, Mother American Night reads like a history of the culture clashes of the last fifty years: offline versus online, rural versus urban, government versus private life. As a rancher who ended up co-founding EFF and the Freedom of the Press Foundation as well as working as Dick Cheney’s campaign coordinator, one of Barlow’s most impressive qualities was straddling, and bringing together, these sometimes opposing cultures.

    • The Ghost of John Perry Barlow Lives in His Posthumous Memoir
    • John Perry Barlow’s memoir, finished weeks before his death, is out

      Weeks before his death he and his co-author Robert Greenfield completed Mother American Night, his long-promised memoir. I just ordered a copy; I would have done that anyway, but Jesse Jarnow’s Wired review made it clear that this is basically Barlow in paper form.

    • NY State Legislators Unanimously Pass A Cyberbullying Bill That Can’t Be Bothered To Define Cyberbullying

      New York state legislators are back at it, attempting to tackle cyberbullying with a “new” law. In reality, this would be the legislature’s fifth attempt to enact an anti-cyberbullying law. New York attorney Eric Turkewitz was the first to catch the New York’s Senate’s self-congratulatory tweet. The tweet touted the bill’s unanimous passage (a 56-0 vote). But “widespread support” isn’t synonymous with “well-crafted law.” No state senator wants to appear “soft” on bullying, so the law passes without anyone bothering to ascertain its effectiveness, much less its constitutionality.

    • First Responders Speak Out About PTSD, Two Years After Pulse Nightclub Shooting

      “To be a first responder, your DNA is built differently,” said Omar Delgado, a former Florida police officer who responded to Orlando’s Pulse nightclub shooting, in which 49 people were killed and at least 53 others wounded. “Everyone’s going to be running out of danger; you’re going to be running in.”

      Nearly two years after the tragedy, Delgado and other first responders who were on the scene at Pulse shared their consequent struggles with post-traumatic stress disorder at an event co-hosted by ProPublica, 90.7 WMFE and the Orlando Public Library on Wednesday night. Held at the Orlando Public Library’s Melrose Center for Technology, Innovation and Creativity, the event also featured family members of first responders, advocates, mental health counselors and elected officials. The conversation was moderated by WMFE reporter Abe Aboraya, who is spending the year investigating PTSD in first responders as part of the ProPublica Local Reporting Network.

    • State Court Says Cop Posing As A Facebook Friend To Snag Criminal Evidence Isn’t A 4th Amendment Violation

      Everett posted pictures of cash and weapons. As a convicted felon, he certainly wasn’t supposed to be in possession of the latter. There’s a discussion of privacy settings in the court’s decision, but it only shows nothing conclusive was determined by the lower court. Apparently, Everett did set his account to “Friends-only” at some point, but that most likely did not occur until after the photos used to obtain a search warrant had already been viewed.

      Ultimately, the court decides the privacy settings don’t really matter — at least not as far as Everett extended them. It would have still allowed the detective to see the photos Everett posted, given that the law enforcement officer was already a Facebook friend.

      Attempting to claim his privacy was violated by the three-year subterfuge, Everett’s challenge partially hinged on a key omission from the detective’s warrant affidavit. The detective never informed the judge he had spent three years pretending to be Everett’s friend to gather probable cause for a search. If nothing else, this seems like a waste of law enforcement resources, given the only charge Everett was convicted for was firearms possession. Then again, surveillance through a Facebook account is a largely passive enterprise.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality
  • Intellectual Monopolies
    • Helsinn: Dueling Questions

      I don’t know what the Supreme Court thinks of alternative statements of the question presented — but it has become a regular practice of parties opposing certiorari to restate the question in an attempt to shift attention of the court.

      The pending petition in Helsinn is on point.

      [...]

      Opposition: Whether this Court should review the Federal Circuit’s factual conclusion that Helsinn’s sale agreement with a third party publicly disclosed its claimed invention “in detail” (Pet. 33a) more than a year before it filed its patent application, thus triggering the “on sale” bar on patentability set forth in 35 U.S.C. §102(a).

    • Reverse Engineering Skittles

      My view is that in most situations reverse engineering and other experimentation should be a permissible fair use despite the existence of patents.

    • EU Files WTO Case Against China Over IP Rights Protection

      The European Union has filed a World Trade Organization dispute settlement complaint against China for unfair treatment of foreign intellectual property rights holders. The case follows a similar filing by the United States against China.

    • Copyrights
      • PC Software Piracy Decreases Worldwide, But Remains Rampant

        A new report published by The Software Alliance shows that usage of pirated PC software is decreasing worldwide. While this is a positive trend for the industry, piracy remains rampant in many countries. This includes Libya, where a massive 90 percent of all software is used without permission.

      • The EU’s Copyright Proposal is Extremely Bad News for Everyone, Even (Especially!) Wikipedia

        The pending update to the EU Copyright Directive is coming up for a committee vote on June 20 or 21 and a parliamentary vote either in early July or late September. While the directive fixes some longstanding problems with EU rules, it creates much, much larger ones: problems so big that they threaten to wreck the Internet itself.

        Under Article 13 of the proposal, sites that allow users to post text, sounds, code, still or moving images, or other copyrighted works for public consumption will have to filter all their users’ submissions against a database of copyrighted works. Sites will have to pay to license the technology to match submissions to the database, and to identify near matches as well as exact ones. Sites will be required to have a process to allow rightsholders to update this list with more copyrighted works.

      • Respect of family life cannot be abused to trump copyright protection, says AG Szpunar

        While it is true that Member States retain significant freedom in devising relevant procedures for repressing copyright infringements and awarding damages, Article 8 of the InfoSoc Directive requires resulting sanctions and remedies be effective, proportionate and dissuasive. This provision is in line with what also Article 3 of the Enforcement Directive mandates.

        In this sense, the question that arises – and has actually arisen – is whether it is compatible with EU law to provide that the owner of an internet connection, through which copyright infringements have been committed, may escape liability thereof by indicating, without the need to provide any further details, a family member that has also had access to such connection.

      • Pirates Are Valuable Customers, Not The Enemy

        New research has revealed that 60 percent of all UK citizens have used pirate services to stream or download TV, films or music. However, the vast majority of these self-proclaimed pirates say they tend to find legal options first. These and other findings suggest that piracy remains an availability problem and that ‘pirates’ are among the most engaged consumers.

      • Spotify is trying to lure artists into licensing their music directly

        Spotify is reportedly offering advances and appealing business terms to independent artists in hopes of convincing them to license their music directly with the streaming music app instead of going through a third-party distribution service.

      • Spotify Offers Managers, Artists Advances to License Music Directly to Its Streaming Service: Exclusive

        Under the terms of some of the deals, management firms can receive several hundred thousand dollars as an advance fee for agreeing to license a certain number of tracks by their independent acts directly to Spotify. Then, in at least some cases, the managers and acts stand to earn 50 percent of the revenue per stream on those songs on Spotify. That’s slightly less than the 54 percent of revenue the major record labels in the U.S. get per stream, on average, according to Billboard’s calculations, but major-label artists and their managers typically receive only 20 percent to 50 percent of the label’s share, depending on an act’s individual royalty rates, and don’t usually get to own their master recordings.

      • How you can #SaveYourInternet from Article 13 and the “Link Tax” in the next 14 days

        It currently looks like there is a razor-thin majority in favor of Article 13. The negotiators for the EPP (conservatives), ALDE (liberals), ECR (eurosceptic conservatives) and ENF (anti-EU far right) in the Legal Affairs Committee recently expressed their support for the latest version of Article 13.

        [...]

        It will come down to every single vote. Our mission until June 20: Make it clear to at least one MEP who’s currently undecided or in favour that their constituents want them to reject these plans. The NGO EDRi has made a list of key swing votes.

      • Julia Reda sounds the alarm: Two weeks until Censorship Machine vote in the European Parliament

        Julia Reda sounds the alarm that the European Parliament will vote on mandatory upload filtering in two weeks, with nowhere near enough attention to this issue from the public at large. Once this vote has taken place, it will be very hard to make additional changes to the bill as it proceeds through the lawmaking machinery.

More in Tux Machines

today's howtos

KDE: Qt, Plasma, QML, Usability & Productivity

  • Qt 5.11.1 and Plasma 5.13.1 in ktown ‘testing’ repository
    A couple of days ago I recompiled ‘poppler’ and the packages in ‘ktown’ that depend on it, and uploaded them into the repository as promised in my previous post. I did that because Slackware-current updated its own poppler package and mine needs to be kept in sync to prevent breakage in other parts of your Slackware computer. I hear you wonder, what is the difference between the Slackware poppler package and this ‘ktown’ package? Simple: my ‘poppler’ package contains support for Qt5 (in addition to the QT4 support in the original package) and that is required by other packages in the ‘ktown’ repository.
  • Sixth week of coding phase, GSoC'18
    The Menus API enables the QML Plugin to add an action, separator or menu to the WebView context menu. This API is not similar to the WebExtensions Menus API but is rather Falkonish!
  • This week in Usability & Productivity, part 24
    See all the names of people who worked hard to make the computing world a better place? That could be you next week! Getting involved isn’t all that tough, and there’s lots of support available.

Programming: Python Maths Tools and Java SE

  • Essential Free Python Maths Tools
    Python is a very popular general purpose programming language — with good reason. It’s object oriented, semantically structured, extremely versatile, and well supported. Scientists favour Python because it’s easy to use and learn, offers a good set of built-in features, and is highly extensible. Python’s readability makes it an excellent first programming language. The Python Standard Library (PSL) is the the standard library that’s distributed with Python. The library comes with, among other things, modules that carry out many mathematical operations. The math module is one of the core modules in PSL which performs mathematical operations. The module gives access to the underlying C library functions for floating point math.
  • Oracle's new Java SE subs: Code and support for $25/processor/month
    Oracle’s put a price on Java SE and support: $25 per processor per month, and $2.50 per user per month on the desktop, or less if you buy lots for a long time. Big Red’s called this a Java SE Subscription and pitched it as “a commonly used model, popular with Linux distributions”. The company also reckons the new deal is better than a perpetual licence, because they involve “an up-front cost plus additional annual support and maintenance fees.”

Linux 4.18 RC2 Released From China

  • Linux 4.18-rc2
    Another week, another -rc. I'm still traveling - now in China - but at least I'm doing this rc Sunday _evening_ local time rather than _morning_. And next rc I'll be back home and over rmy jetlag (knock wood) so everything should be back to the traditional schedule. Anyway, it's early in the rc series yet, but things look fairly normal. About a third of the patch is drivers (drm and s390 stand out, but here's networking and block updates too, and misc noise all over). We also had some of the core dma files move from drivers/base/dma-* (and lib/dma-*) to kernel/dma/*. We sometimes do code movement (and other "renaming" things) after the merge window simply because it tends to be less disruptive that way. Another 20% is under "tools" - mainly due to some selftest updates for rseq, but there's some turbostat and perf tooling work too. We also had some noticeable filesystem updates, particularly to cifs. I'm going to point those out, because some of them probably shouldn't have been in rc2. They were "fixes" not in the "regressions" sense, but in the "missing features" sense. So please, people, the "fixes" during the rc series really should be things that are _regressions_. If it used to work, and it no longer does, then fixing that is a good and proper fix. Or if something oopses or has a security implication, then the fix for that is a real fix. But if it's something that has never worked, even if it "fixes" some behavior, then it's new development, and that should come in during the merge window. Just because you think it's a "fix" doesn't mean that it really is one, at least in the "during the rc series" sense. Anyway, with that small rant out of the way, the rest is mostly arch updates (x86, powerpc, arm64, mips), and core networking. Go forth and test. Things look fairly sane, it's not really all that scary. Shortlog appended for people who want to scan through what changed. Linus
  • Linux 4.18-rc2 Released With A Normal Week's Worth Of Changes
    Due to traveling in China, Linus Torvalds has released the Linux 4.18-rc2 kernel a half-day ahead of schedule, but overall things are looking good for Linux 4.18.